REBELLION

Sagas of Iceland: The History...

Locomotive
rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. In Memorandum Lindisfarnae
02. Ynglinga Saga (To Odin We Call)
03. The Sons Of The Dragon Slayer (Blood Eagle)
04. Ragnhild's Dream
05. Harald Harfager
06. Eric The Red
07. Freedom (The Saga Of Gang Hrolf)
08. Treason
09. Sword In The Storm (Saga Of Earl Hakon, Protector Of Norway's Shores)
10. Blood Rains (Saga Of Olaf Tryggvason)
11. Ruling The Waves
12. Canute The Great (King Of Danish Pride)
13. Harald Hardrade


Here's an album that probably won't get nearly the notice that it deserves. A traditional/power metal album with an in-depth concept about Viking tales will generally be very well done or fail miserably. Germany's REBELLION have accomplished the former in a big way, which is even more surprising considering that the whole Viking thing has been beaten bloody and left for dead. Featuring two ex-GRAVE DIGGER members (bassist Tomi Gottlich and guitarist Uwe Lulis),"Sagas of Iceland" follows in the footsteps of another epic concept album called "Shakespeare's Macbeth – a Tragedy in Steel". It's not easy turning an ambitious lyrical concept into an album that captivates intellectually and stimulates musically, but the act has done just that.

The key to the album is its flow. The peaks and valleys and the light and heavy parts (though mostly heavy) keep the listener involved, and that includes paying attention to the story line and remembering the lyrics. Rather than coming off cheesy or awkward, the narrated parts (both male and female) on "Harald Harfager" fit with album's overall theme, neither killing momentum nor thwarting the band's efforts to captivate the listener. The graceful, balladesque moments, such as "Treason" are well done and powerful. Here again, the transition from the heavy material to the lighter fare is seamless. And there are several traditionally metallic and pretty darn scorching metal anthems, including "The Sons of the Dragon Slayer (Blood Eagle)", "Eric the Red" (you'll be shouting along to the chorus on this one),and "Ragnhild's Dream".

The players are impressive as well. Vocalist Michael Seifert possesses a mid-to-upper range style with just enough grit to keep him from sounding whiny. Expressive, but not irritatingly over the top, Seifert is as an integral part of the album's depth. Guitarists Lulis and Simone Wenzel crank out strong riffs and even stronger solos that rip convincingly, as well as support the main melody lines.

At 63 minutes, you'd better be sure the music on "Sagas of Iceland" is your "thing." The beauty of the disc is that there is so much to enjoy that those fans that are lukewarm to this kind of epic songwriting (myself included) should find more than enough to sate their metal desires. Any way you slice it, "Sagas of Iceland" is an impressive piece of work.

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