Written by: TL on 31/12/2009 15:16:08

The more I listen to albums like "Nibelung" by bands like Siegfried, the more I seem to become aware of a couple of things. First and foremost that the sheer amount of these bands, of the symphonic/neo-classical/power/progressive orientation, are numerous like the stars. Secondly, that these bands have this entire underground scene based in a mutual understanding of what is cool, which is pretty much entirely different from the rest of the music scene, and indeed also likely the rest of the word. After all, when they see chainmail, they think "awesome" and we think "nerd". Anyway, thirdly, and most importantly, despite what one might think of the style of these bands, in a strict musical sense, listening to them is simply never, ever, boring. An outrageous ambition and will to show of technical skills makes that certain.

So yeah, enter Siegfried and their new album "Nibelung": The band is, as hinted, a symphonic/power-metal band, who writes concept music themed around ancient historical sagas. So far that fits the stereotypical profile alright, and indeed, I guess it would be all too easy to compare them directly to Kamelot and Rhapsody Of Fire, if it weren't for their vocals. You see, instead of employing a run of the mill, long haired, belting, screeching, leather-clad tenor, Siegfried spread their bets over a couple of different vocal styles. We've got ourselves some screams, some growls, some theatrical harsh spoken word stuff, some operatic singing - both male and female - and if I'm not mistaken, there were also some gang choirs in there. That mixture is quite a mouthful alright, but it makes sense, because as far as I can tell, each voice plays a role in each song, and they exchange lines like it was some sort of dark, medieval, heavy metal musical you witnessed. Oh, and the reason I write 'as far as I can tell', is that Siegfried sing entirely in German, and while my German was once quite decent, these days keeping track of affairs here in Denmark is more than I can handle.

It's a bit off balance though to spend so much time in a review of this band talking about their vocals, considering how complicated and layered compositions they bring to the table instrumentally. After all, this is symphonic/power indeed, so you can bet your ass that there are more technical guitar wizardry than you can shake an axe at, and on top of that comes of course pummeling drumming and God knows how many strings and horns and keys. The reason they're not the first thing I start talking about, however, is obvious because the fact of the matter is that while this is fantastic, it is something that pretty much every other similar band I've heard have all aspired to do as well. Siegfried's soundscape is indeed somewhat darker than what I'm used to hearing from bands like these, but then again it's not that much, and while it certainly is fascinating to behold the intricacies of their compositions, it's hard to pick up something that stands out, both from the record and from symphonic power in general. There's an exception in "Die Prophezeihung" which opens with a rather mean signature riff, that should encourage some immediate windmilling in those so inclined, but overall, it's another one of those albums that pretty much demands that you sit down and appreciate the entirety, rather than the individual song.

Overall, "Nibelung" is an album to be enjoyed simply for the ridiculous amount of skill that is combined within it. Both the singing and the playing is, as far as I can tell, nothing short of excellent, and to hear it arranged to support an overall vision is to hear an accomplishment worthy of praise any day of the week. Still though, if it wasn't for the richness in vocals on offer, I would forgive casual listeners if they couldn't tell Siegfried apart from other bands of their kind, because they lack, as many of their contemporaries, a signature sound that makes them shine out from within their genre. Something that makes them "Siegfried" rather than "Siegfried, the symphonic metal band". However, despite such criticism, I would still listen to this stuff any day, when given the choice between this, and for instance the last two promos I reviewed.


Download: "Die Prophezeihung", "Alberich, Die Eisenfaust"
For The Fans Of: Moonspell, Fairyland, Virgin Steele('s new stuff)

Release Date 30.11.2009
Napalm Records

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