Minas Morgul – Eisengott – 3.5/5
Following the standard style that has been coined before them, this Pagan Black Metal band does everything by the book, adding their own slight branding to the scene that is slowly becoming more fully fleshed out. Sadly, whilst there are many aspects that are performed well – and one in particular that isn’t – it feels like ground that’s already been trodden; not quite as upbeat and folk-influenced as ‘Forefather,’ but not as slow and epic as ‘Moonsorrow,’ either. Rather a comfortable middle ground that compositionally works fairly well, if not reaching the heights either achieves.
Getting my gripes out of the way, the drumming on the opening track – the time when the band should demonstrate the best they have to offer to get you interested – is beyond atrocious. As in ‘St. Anger’ levels of downright horrendous, with a snare made to sound like a rusty tin pipe, caterwauling above everything, and whilst it never reaches this all time low again, it demolishes what might otherwise be a decent track. He is simply never again made prominent enough in the mix to make much of a difference; his generic beats mixed with the occasional tin-pipe crash demonstrating a distinct lack of variety - at times, severely - detracting from the end result.
My only other real complaint is the bass work; made prominent in a number of passages, distinct yet still following the guitars for the most part; he isn’t given enough of a thick presence, and so easily could have provided a ‘volcanic rumbling’ type sound to much of the proceedings, allowing the guitars to demonstrate the frantic chaos of battle whilst the bass yields a thunderous roar of two clashing titans shaking the earth. It is left then to the combination of vocals and guitars to truly succeed in dominating this release; the melodies created simple but effective, bombastically tremolo picked and galloped riffs never fail to provide throughout the albums duration, varying superbly to provide an unrelenting pagan invasion.
Topped off nicely by the vocals which will vary in pitch from the hoarse and powerful mid-range to the blackened upper range, even tastefully incorporating clean vocals and speech into the proceedings; they succeed in doing everything that I could ask from them. The overall pace and composition is strong, creating a dynamic battle atmosphere, but it was ultimately let down mostly by the production. If they’d managed to fix the drums and they’d probably have seen themselves up half a mark. They still wont be doing anything truly genre breaking or original, but they’ll be producing some addictive ‘viking’ toned melodies more successful than most who try.
Highlights: Minas Morgul, Rot, Sinn und Ziel