Equilibrium - Rekreatur
Nuclear Blast
Bombastic, Melodic Folk Metal
9 songs (62:01)
Release year: 2010
Equilibrium, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Kyle
Album of the month

I’m going to be perfectly honest here: It was essentially impossible for Equilibrium to actually live up to my expectations with Rekreatur. Sagas, the band’s previous album, was not only my album of the year for 2008, but also my favorite folk metal album ever, period. I was so surprised and impassioned by that masterpiece that it inspired me to write my first real review of an album; sure, maybe it was only made public on a relatively unpopular metal forum, but it was also the review that I sent in with my application to join Metalreviews.com, which thus far has been a wonderful experience for me. So, with my anticipation level through the roof, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on what they had in store next…

…and, as I had feared, I wasn’t stunned. Partially because the first few songs of Rekreatur are of a lower quality than the rest on the album, but also because a bit of the passion seems to have disappeared after Sagas; this is no longer a band that’s enthusiastic about releasing their sophomore album on one of the most recognizable metal labels in the world, but rather one that is now attempting to find a comfortable sound to work with for the rest of their career while simultaneously adjusting to departure of two old members and the subsequent arrival of two new ones. But is Rekreatur a bad album? Hell no! It’s fantastic! It’s almost sure to be one of my top ten albums of 2010. However, when compared to Sagas (which I quickly learned is something you shouldn’t do if you wish to avoid disappointment, though as a reviewer I cannot), it feels a bit underwhelming.

As I mentioned before, Equilibrium has a new drummer and vocalist on board for Rekreatur, and thankfully they’re great ones; Robert Dahn does take a little getting used to as his growling / shrieking style is a bit different from Helge Stange, but new drummer Taval Refaeli fits in perfectly, his drumming style very similar to that of former member Manu Camillo. Production, as it was on Sagas, is flawless, with every instrument displaying the highest level of clarity without one overpowering another.

And now, onto the music! The first three songs on the album are, as I explained earlier, not on a level with the rest of Rekreatur for whatever reason. Opening charger In Heiligen Hallen shows Equilibrium at their most epic for the first thirty seconds before transforming into one of the band’s trademark speedy tracks later on, and herein lies my main complaint with Rekreatur: There are plenty of moments on the album where Equilibrium will change tempos and go into a full-speed-ahead charge, which they did often on Sagas… but where’s the melody?? In songs like Blut im Auge the guitar and drums would blaze ahead as fast as possible while a bouncy keyboard melody would weave around the other instruments, making for an impossibly catchy and headbang-y folk metal song. But whenever the band does this on Rekreatur, all we get is chugging tremolo riffs and fast drumming, but with no keyboard melody to follow it! It’s at times like these where there is no indication that this is even a folk metal album at all, which is a true shame.

But hold on, things get much better! After two more very-good-but-not-great tracks, Rekreatur hits its stride with Die Affeninsel, a fast paced song with a Caribbean style to it that is instantly catchy. Creative riffs and keyboard work along with spot-on songwriting make this one a sure killer, and the song that follows, Der Wassermann, is another winner. A mid-paced song at the start, this track is packed full of epic moments and outstanding melodies, especially in the latter half when the pace picks up and makes way for even more melodies (but then again, there’s another quick, bombastic charge that is, for whatever reason, generic and melody-free). Next up is Aus Ferner Zeit, and in my opinion, this is the best that Rekreatur has to offer, though it took a bit to grow on me. The first three minutes or so are thrashy and fast paced with quirky melodies littered about, before a subtle tempo / time signature change occurs (seriously, it’s so good that you won’t know it happens unless you’re looking for it) and shows us a more modest side of Equilibrium with some female, Celtic-style chanting that’s new to the band (the entire song has a Celtic vibe to it - Equilibrium did say they were experimenting with new cultural styles on this album), plus several other tempo changes later on in the song.

Next, Equilibrium proves once again that it’s all too easy to make fun of German song titles with Fahrtwind, one of the better fast tracks here that carries on a simple melody throughout its five minute running time; in that time the band shows moments of sheer bombast and intensity while still keeping things quirky, especially when the track’s bluesy and ironic solo arrives. It’s a bit like Snuffel from Sagas, though this song is a bit more focused on the folk side of things. Then comes Wenn Erdreich Bricht; It’s a surprisingly slow song that features somber chord progression and even some black metally tremolo riffing, though the keyboard melody in the chorus is oddly romantic sounding. There isn’t another Equilibrium song like this, so there’s not much to compare it to, but if you don’t mind the band’s slower songs then this one should really be a treat. And at the album’s very end, we have Kurzes Epos. Though it feels like this thirteen minute instrumental was written to satisfy fans of the instrumental Mana from Sagas, it’s still a masterpiece, and can be broken up into four sections: A mid-paced, marching, epic intro, a melodic and fast paced section that is about as fast as your average DragonForce song, a slower and somber portion, and a celebratory closing that ends the album on a triumphant note. A tad more straightforward than Mana, sure, but this makes it easier to form a “Story” in your mind of what’s going on without the aid of lyrics.

So at the end of this sixty two minute album (and overly long review, which I apologize for), how exactly does one adequately sum up Rekreatur? In my world, it goes something like this: Rekreatur is a fantastic album, one that is more streamlined than Equilibrium‘s earlier efforts (partly due to the fact that there are no intros, interludes, or short songs), but in many places lacks melody. Equilibrium MUST avoid attempting fast, bombastic runs in the future without any melody backing them up, or otherwise these moments only sound like fast guitars and drums and nothing else. Other than this and a couple of weak songs, however, it is hard for me to find flaw in this album. Equilibrium is a band that has definitely established their own signature sound, one that they can work with effectively without it growing stale. They definitely didn’t try to make a Sagas clone with Rekreatur, thanks to some experimental songs (Wenn Erdreich Bricht) and a wider array of cultural influences (Die Affeninsel). Though I’m not as impressed with this album as I was with their previous work, and although it took a few listens to grow on me, Rekreatur is still an incredibly enjoyable record that I will be listening to for years to come.

Killing Songs :
All but the first three
Kyle quoted 94 / 100
Vrechek quoted 76 / 100
Other albums by Equilibrium that we have reviewed:
Equilibrium - Erdentempel reviewed by Kyle and quoted 73 / 100
Equilibrium - Sagas reviewed by Dylan and quoted 95 / 100
Equilibrium - Turis Fratyr reviewed by Dylan and quoted 94 / 100
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