Equilibrium - Erdentempel
Nuclear Blast
Folk Metal
12 songs (56:12)
Release year: 2014
Equilibrium, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Kyle

After releasing two highly regarded folk metal albums in Turis Fratyr and Sagas and attempting to capitalize on the success of the latter with the somewhat bloated and disproportionate Rekreatur, Equilibrium seems to be dialing things back a bit with Erdentempel. While Rekreatur was relentlessly bombastic and monumental in scope, this new release finds the band relying on shorter songs with simpler structures in an attempt to inject some fun into their sound. This is not to say the band’s past releases were executed in a stone-faced manner by any means – I’ve always viewed Equilibrium as a folk metal band geared towards the power metal set – but tracks such as Uns'rer Flöten Klang and Wirtshaus Gaudi certainly fall under the banner of “party metal” and would not be too terribly out of place at a Korpiklaani gig.

I’m not condemning this emphasis on “fun” by any means; in fact, Wirthaus Gaudi is easily my pick of the album thanks to its whimsical blend of drunken Bavarian folk and melodic death metal, short though this song may be (and have you seen its music video? Grab a beer and find it on Youtube. It’s great). This sense of fun does, however, endow Erdentempel with an attitude lighter than that of its predecessors, and most of the songs lack a strong sense of impact as a result. In the past, Equilibrium’s songs often built towards a bombastic chorus or an explosive finale which granted each song with a gratifying sense of payoff; listen to the song Die Weide und der Fluß from Sagas, for instance, and you’ll hear how certain melodies heard early on are sped up and modified as the song reaches its conclusion, creating a strong sense of structure and continuity. Tracks on Erdentempel like Was Lange Währt and Stein Meiner Ahnen make an attempt at providing a similarly bombastic conclusion, yet Equilibrium is playing at full throttle from the very beginning of these songs, leaving them no room to evolve into something grander. As a result, each track on Erdentempel feels decidedly one-note.

Negative criticisms aside, there is still quite a bit to like about Erdentempel. Equilibrium’s folk elements are stronger and more prevalent here than they were on Rekreatur (you’ll encounter heavy Celtic influence on Waldschrein and Caribbean sounds on Heavy Chill), and in general the band finds itself branching out in new directions not covered on prior albums, which includes the introduction of clean vocals to the band’s toolset. The average tempo of Erdentempel is also much slower than we’re used to hearing from the band, which can result in tracks either exciting (The Unknown Episode - first song that the band has sung in English!) or slightly boring (Freiflug). These changes, especially when applied to Equilibrium’s newfound emphasis on simpler song structures, lead to an album that feels much different from any of the band’s past albums.

These changes leave me with mixed feelings. On one hand I’m happy to see Equilibrium trying new things after their formula began to grow stale with Rekreatur, while on the other hand it hurts somewhat to see the band that released the masterpiece that was Sagas six years ago releasing an album that feels so safe in comparison. I'm not suggesting that the band stick to a proven formula merely because it worked in the past; Equilibrium is the sort of band that needs to evolve in order to stay fresh, but I’m not satisfied at this point that Erdentempel is forecasting a bright future for the band (which lost all but one of its founding members upon the completion of this album). Yet fans of Equilibrium should not worry too much; despite the toned-down nature of Erdentempel when compared to its predecessors, it still sounds very much like an Equilibrium album, and the fact that it strays from the template of its predecessors while also maintaining the band’s core sound is impressive on its own. Overall, Erdentempel is an enjoyable record that will tide me over for a few years while I cross my fingers in the hopes that Equilibrium makes the most of its new lineup and produces a stronger follow-up.

Killing Songs :
Waldschrein, Wirtshaus Gaudi, The Unknown Episode
Kyle quoted 73 / 100
Thomas quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Equilibrium that we have reviewed:
Equilibrium - Rekreatur reviewed by Kyle and quoted 94 / 100
Equilibrium - Sagas reviewed by Dylan and quoted 95 / 100
Equilibrium - Turis Fratyr reviewed by Dylan and quoted 94 / 100
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