rating icon 6 / 10

Track listing:

01. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!
02. Twilight of the Thunder God
03. The Bad Touch
04. Limit
05. Der Graf
06. Hier kommt Alex
07. I See Fire
08. Square Hammer
09. Warriors of the World United
10. Dragostea Din Tei
11. Amen & Attack
12. Engel
13. Gott Mit Uns
14. Ding
15. Blinding Lights
16. Final Countdown

Hugely popular in their native Germany — and therefore, almost by default, in Austria and Switzerland, too — FEUERSCHWANZ have been injecting the folk / medieval metal scene with bombast and boisterousness since 2004. When they first emerged with debut album "Prima Nocte" in 2005, their sound was only gently tethered to anything heavy, and it was a robust but airy strain of folk rock that informed most of the records that followed.

Since 2020's "Das elfte Gebot", however, FEUERSCHWANZ have allowed metal's bluster and pomp to play a more vital role, and last year's "Memento Mori" cemented that welcome shift. Both of those albums were released with bonus CDs, each one boasting a handful of covers. "Todsünden" hurls all the covers together, embellishing them with enhanced production and tweaked arrangements. Admittedly, this is the very definition of a stopgap release, sneaked out at the arse-end of the year and presented as a clearing of the decks, rather than an artistic statement of any kind. But while "Todsünden" is as inconsistent and daft as covers albums tend to be, it is also occasionally brilliant.

The best moments arrive when FEUERSCHWANZ smother their renditions with folk instrumentation and many-headed ensemble exuberance. A fiery take on AMON AMARTH's "Twilight of the Thunder God" is both faithful and slyly inventive. MANOWAR's "Warriors of the World United" gets a similarly respectful treatment, but with male and female vocals and kitchen sinks bouncing off the walls: it's an overblown triumph. Euro-pop smash "Dragostea Din Tei", originally by Moldovan trio O-ZONE, gets the full-metal treatment, and reinforces how much cheesy European chart music and ultra-melodic power metal have in common. Meanwhile, FEUERSCHWANZ play POWERWOLF's "Amen & Attack" with the mad-eyed passion of diehard fans.

There are a few calamitous missteps. GHOST's "Square Hammer" gains nothing from being played so straight, and ED SHEERAN's "I See Fire" passes blandly by without incident. Covers of songs by German alt-rockers DIE ARZTE and electro-punks DEICHKIND will probably make a lot more sense for those familiar with their music, and no amount of Irish Bouzouki can turn BLOODHOUND GANG's "The Bad Touch" into a good song. In contrast, legendary German punk DIE TOTEN HOSEN are saluted with a cover of "Hier kommt Alex" — originally from the band's excellent, "A Clockwork Orange"-themed 1988 album, "Ein Kleines Bisschen Horrorschau" and a stone-cold banger by any sane reckoning. FEUERSCHWANZ give the song a wholesale reworking that brims with imaginative touches: something oddly absent from this album's perfunctory opening version of ABBA's "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!".

A final trio of songs neatly sums up the admirable folly of the covers album. A song penned by eclectic German rock crew SEEED, "Ding", is all tooth-rattling rap-metal and hammered accordions, but not a lot more; THE WEEKND's "Blinding Lights" is so ubiquitous that FEUERSCHWANZ are brave to attempt it, but their version is skillfully done and that central melody is irritatingly lovable. EUROPE's "The Final Countdown", on the other hand, really doesn't need to be covered again, by anybody. Even Joey Tempest must be sick of it by now, despite the royalties.

Aimed squarely at the fans and, erm, covers album fanatics, "Todsünden" (which means "deadly sins") is flawed but fun. That'll do.

Author: Dom Lawson
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