Sound: Let me get this out of the way, anything with highland bagpipes and drums I listen to and love, I've always taken Lord of the Rings over Star Wars, and I am proud of my Scot-Irish heritage. So it's only natural that a combination of highland bagpipes, melodic black and death metal, and lyrics involving a Celtic tribe called the Picts waging war against the attacking Roman Empire, would catch my interest. So my opinion may be a bit biased, but.. you're just going to have to suck it up and deal with it. ONTO THE REVIEW!
The album starts out with winds blowing, and bagpipes playing in the distance, and the rumbling of thunder foreshadowing the most intense assault of Celtic war tunes you will ever hear. The diverse yet structured sound of this band is apparent within the first 2 minutes of the album, with a lone acoustic guitar and chimes, then gently transforming into tribal drumming, with both guitars strumming Celtic chords that fly past you like arrows, while Arkadius' (singer/guitarist/songwriter) semi-clean vocals are complete with a drawl you might here on a Dropkick Murphys CD, and then you're off. The war has begun, and there is no turning back. This album will send you off marching to battle, kick the opposing army's ass, and return back home standing tall and proud. Some may think this long, drawn out description may be a tad unnecessary, but anyone who has heard this CD knows exactly the feeling I speak of. The atmosphere of the album throws you directly into the movie Braveheart.
Before the end of the first track, the listener will be well aware what he/she/it is in for, and it only gets more aggressive and epic from here on out, slowing down at points for dramatic effect, and speeding back up to neck breaking speeds that a Death-core kid would cry at the sight of.
Suidakra, 12 years into their career at the point this album was recorded, have shown how well they work together on this album. Lars Wehner's drumming compliments the assault of the guitar, while also providing epic tribal sections that give the listener visions of marching off to war. Scratch that, more like excitedly running into battle. Lars knows how to tone it down when needed, which is a good quality for a metal drummer, as most don't understand that sometimes "less is more". Marcus Riewaldt's bass playing, though it isn't the best I've ever heard in metal bands (I'm well aware metal isn't bass friendly for the most part), he sometimes goes off on little bass-rants during the acoustic parts, which are generally well constructed. He also knows how to not just follow the guitar, but follow the guitar AND drums, which a lot of bassists I've come across in metal tend to follow only one or the other. This provides a tight rhythm section for Arkadius Antonik and Marcel Schoenen to mix up their melodic death metal string skipping riffs, with melodic black metal flavored tremelo picked sections, folk-influenced guitar lines, and emotional acoustic passages. The songs themselves do not follow a set structure per-se (no verse-chorus-verse), but the songs flow very well, not just throughout one, but into each other as well. You will not get bored listening, nor will you get lost in the organized chaos.
The one and only complaint I can make about this album, is that at some points (the beginning of Forth-Clyde, for example), it sounds like the intro to a metal-core song. Sometimes I feel like I'm listening to a song off of Trivium's Ascendancy. But then I extract my head from my anus and open my ears, and realize the glorious Celtic Metal assault these four German men have executed so brilliantly. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics for the album were written by Marcel Schoenen, and revolve around the Pictish/Roman war. The Picts were a group of people in Scotland who never surrendered or or bowed to anyone that tried to take their land. Even thought they were defeated on their own soil by invading army's, they never gave up. (anyone interested in reading the whole concept, it is available on Suidakra's official website, www.suidakra.com) With this being said, the lyrics and music fit better than anything I've ever heard. Why? Because not only is the music Celtic, and so are the group if people it is based on. Not because the Highland Bagpipes, and the fact the Picts are from Scotland. But because the music is just as relentless and vicious as the group described in the lyrics. It will not give up or bow to anyone, and all those who oppose better be prepared to fight to the death.
Arkadius Antonik's vocals are normally the same all throughout the record, and usually are nothing special. Typical old-school melodic death metal growls. But it is Marcel Schoenen's clean vocals mixed with Arkadius's growls that makes the duo so special. Any fan of Vintersorg's voice will immediately adore Marcel's cleans. Antonik's vocals sometimes sound tired, which is a minor set back, but still worth noting. // 9
Overall Impression: This is Suidakra's masterpiece, and a great album for anyone looking to get into the band to start off with. It is a really the same sound that they've done for 12 years before the making of this record, but there is something really special here that I just can't seem to put my finger on. I can honestly say there is nothing about this record that I hate, except that when its over, I can't listen to music all day because nothing compares to this Epic Celtic Masterpiece. If anyone ever tried to steal this album from me, they would die by my longsword. In this genre of music, this album can only be rivaled by 2 albums. The Wintersun self titled, and the follow up to this album, Crogacht. I was rather upset to see there were no Suidakra reviews on UG, so I felt it my duty to bring this amazing band to the ears of all UG-er's. Any fan of folk metal or folk inspired metal should not miss out on this amazing band. // 10