In Extremo


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Germanic folk metal is the marvel of the whole world, spawning acts from Subway to Sally to Tanzwut, but Sængerkrieg proves that In Extremo are still undisputed kings of the hill in this style. Like most bands of that ilk, In Extremo have gradually shifted the balance from folk to rock in their music, but that's just the result of the band's continually improved riff-writing skills, which were pretty elite to begin with. The prime cuts on Sængerkrieg, like "Sieben Köche" and "Neues Glück," are powerhouses of heavy rock that don't need to rely on additional gimmicks, being perfectly able to blow the audience away with conventional rock tools, although that doesn't mean the album has no bagpipes or other traditional elements -- it has plenty, integrating them into the songs to make the hooks even bigger. The way In Extremo make the bouncy folk rhythms go with powerful rock riffs can even recall System of a Down, although this is a technical matter -- mood-wise, the bands don't have anything in common, as Sængerkrieg is angst-free and often surprisingly sunny. The band also largely abandons singing in other languages, except for one case of mangled English in "An End Has a Start" and single stabs at French and Spanish, but that, too, is because Letzte Einhorn's Teutonic roar is big enough to need no distractions. Sængerkrieg has some dynamics issues typical for folk metal records -- you can't go all the way on breakneck speed, but breathers generally lack the punch of faster cuts -- and, while In Extremo try their best, infusing songs like "Mein Sehnen" with huge amounts of bombast, those numbers, though sounding fine on their own, lose some steam in the context of the album. But still, Sængerkrieg is an epic set of tunes.

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