Sound: "Turis Fratyr", Equilibrium's first album, manages to impress and innovate. Everything that is so great about their current release, "Sagas", can be found here - And even more. Blastbeat drums, shredding guitars, keyboard backup, wind instruments - Everything a typical pagan release needs, right?
Well, there's more here than that. The sound of "Turis Fratyr" defines a genre of its own, with a lot of keyboard tunes la Ensiferum, low- and high end growling as heard on some of the earlier Endstille releases, and a distinct guitar sound (and speed) that reminds one of Blind Guardian. This mixture creates something that could be named "Epic-Pagan-Black Metal". While this might sound strange, everyone who listens to songs like "Unter der Eiche" or "Widars Hallen" will understand what I'm trying to describe. There is always that little extra that prevents me from clearly classifying Equilibrium's musical style. Oh, and who demands an acoustic track will be very pleased with "Im Fackelschein", which manages to give me goosebumps due to its perfect harmony of harp and piano which sets it apart from the other intrumentals on the record.
The overall impression that "Turis Fratyr" leaves when it comes to sound and arrangement is a bombastic one. The only thing that can be denunciated is the sterile sound of some of the instruments, namely the wind instruments. This is due to the fact that they obviously aren't played by any of the band's members, and are produced in the studio. If you see Equilibrium live, you will especially note this.
But what is here is great, and definately worth 10 points - With one removed for the fake wind instruments. // 9
Lyrics: The first thing you will probably think when you hear Helge Stang's voice for the first time is "How the hell does he do that". As if the fluent change between high- and low end growls wasn't impressive enough, his screeching voice, which he uses to tell us stories of gods, prophecies and - most often - wild carousals, leads the listener to the imagination of an old and somewhat creepy story-teller.
The sad thing is, as all of Equilibrium's lyrics are written and sung in German, chances are that most of the listeners from other countries won't have a clue of what is going on in every song. And that is a crying shame, since every song not only has a fascinating story, but is in fact complex in a lyrical way that can be compared to some of the older, German opuses like "Faust" or "Wilhelm Tell".
With that being said, if you do care about understanding lyrics, then you are out of luck. But that shouldn't stop you from giving this fantastic piece of art at least one complete run in your CD-Player.
To be bloody honest, I just can't find anything bad about the vocals or lyrics. // 10
Overall Impression: If you want a record that satisfies the little pagan metal lover in you, look no further than "Turis Fratyr". What is here is worth every penny you spend buying the album, and it will definitely enter your CD-Player more often than you probably imagined. Any why not? I am listening to it for some years now (as it was released in 2003 in Germany), listened to the songs more than 3 times live, and will continue to listen to it everytime I am doing something that involves happy drinking. Probably the only thing that exceeds this record in its style and finesse is "Sagas", the second record of the Bavarian Metal-Heads.
If you don't own any of those two, go and buy them now. If you already own Sagas and never really thought about buying Turis Fratyr, well, I hope you think otherwise after reading this review (What were you waiting for, anyway?).
In case you still want to look up some of the songs on youtube before spending your hard earned cash, go and listen to "Wingthors Hammer", "Unter der Eiche", "Widars Hallen" and "Met", as those are the most impressive songs and definitive fan favorites. // 9