Heimataerde

Gottgleich

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AllMusic Review by

As Heimataerde’s music has progressed and matured, they have added many new elements to their sound, but have never lost sight of their medieval roots or the overarching conceptual story line which ties their albums together and is a major reason why their fans keep coming back for more. On 2010’s Unwesen, the action returned to the Holy Land and saw the introduction of the Moorish warrior Rafim ibn Husam al Din. Now, Ash is a hunted man, pursued by the implacable inquisitors who have already arrested and executed many of the Templars on allegations of heresy. Gottgleich (“Godlike”) expands on the Middle Eastern and NDH influences which first appeared on Unwesen. Distorted electric guitar is present on almost every track, but relatively low in the mix, so that rather than making this sound like a metal album, it simply adds texture to the songs, making the sound thicker and grittier and perfectly complementing the pounding club beats. At the same time, ethnic instruments such as ney and doumbek, and ornate Occidental melodies, whether sung or played on Western instruments like the violin, can be heard on many of the songs. There is also an increased sense of melody, with hints of what could even be called “pop” songwriting. The songs on this album may be divided roughly into three types: those aimed squarely at the dancefloor; midtempo, atmospheric, “narrative” tracks, many featuring spoken word voice-overs which tie in to the story, and traditional or “ethnic” pieces. The album starts with a cinematic intro featuring the haunting whisper of Lex from Megaherz atop ecclesiastical soprano vocals, before launching straight into the club-smashing single “Templerblut” (“Templar Blood”). There are also a couple of neat new additions to the band’s sound. A noticeable dubstep influence pervades the song “Wacht Auf” (“Wake Up”). The female Hebrew vocals are another classy addition and just one of the treats awaiting listeners on this album, whether exquisitely, ornamentally sung on “Outremer” (“Overseas”), or spoken on “Al Naharot Bavel” (Psalm 137, “By the Rivers of Babylon”) -- the latter perhaps an extremely veiled tip of the hat to Boney M, another unlikely German band. Perhaps the most surprising inclusion is a churning, chugging instrumental version of the traditional English Christmas carol “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” The best song here is “Allein” (“Alone”), a forbidding, ominous, hammering club anthem which may indeed be the best they have penned since their unsurpassable masterpiece “Vater” back in 2008. This is probably the most varied album Heimataerde have made to date, and one which will probably take a few spins for fans to fully digest, but to which they will undoubtedly return again and again. It is perhaps the best distillation to date of the unique Heimataerde sound and is therefore recommended to all aficionados of hard electronica as well as those attracted to unusual, interesting music; those wishing to fully appreciate the overarching story line, however, should start at the beginning with 2005’s Gotteskrieger.

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