Review Summary: The word Epic has had various meanings throughout its history. For this occasion, I am using the Ancient Greek’s version of it. This album is legendary
The word Epic has had various meanings throughout its history. Today’s definition is that of something extraordinary or huge. Ancient Greeks used the word as defining someone has having legendary status. Music has come to use this term as well. Epic Music mostly incorporates symphonic elements into their music; but if you are Nightwish, you use a full fledged orchestra. Sometimes this illustrates a certain level of cheese that is unmatched by nothing else in the world; example being the epic Rhapsody of Fire being the cheesiest in the world. Viking/Folk metal also exuberates this cheese as well. Moonsorrow’s half hour epics are nothing short of cheesy. There is one band that I just came across that uses the word epic in such an awe-inspiring way, that the listener would be degrading the integrity of the music if they decide to call it cheesy. This my fellow listeners of Sputnikmusic is Sagas
This album divides itself into two sections: the epic portion and the more epic portion, with the latter presenting some of the most stunning and beautiful music I have laid my ears upon. Opener Prolog auf Erden
starts out by making the listener feel like they are preparing for battle against the Romans in the late B.C and early A.D eras. About a minute and a half in we get a war scream from Helge Stang, the singer, and the battle begins. This hellacious four minute song is just a speckle of dust on the old table. In fact, the entire album is one big Viking pre-war ritual turned into a huge battle. It never lets itself up and never wants to slow down. Now with this lasting near 80 minutes, one could think that this may get a bit boring by being essentially the same thing over and over again, but that is not the case at all.
Actually one thing keeps this from going into the realm of getting boring: the musicianship. Musically this is the third greatest album I have listened to (The others being Dark Passion Play and Once respecitively). Each orchestral passage is constructed and played to highest form in such a way that Tuomas Holopainen would be jealous in the high conduction. The orchestra does take over and keeps the reigns on the guitars, bass, and drums, but that makes this record that much better. I would compare the layering and placement of the music to a later Nightwish album, in that the guitars and drums play a majority rhythm role. Although all the instruments get a major role in the steller Ruf in den Wind
All of the songs on Sagas
has a certain beauty to them, making none boring or in a way that would drag on for a long period of time. Each song has a meaning and a certain place that fits into the whole idea of this story being told. One does not even have to look at the lyrics (which are all in German by the way) to understand what is going on. Lyrically, this is about Germany mythology and Folklore. If you comprehend and know the littlest amount about early to middle-age Germanic history, you understand and appreciate the marvel of the album. Adding the vocals of Helge Stang makes this that much better. His growls and shrieks are marvelous, and this is coming from someone who is extremely picky on his harsh vocals. Helge is the head Viking of the clan, and he does a fine job at what he does. All of the songs are equal in their own right. Two though stand high above on the Alps Mountains: Blut im Auge
Blut im Auge
(Blood in Eye) is a woodwind and string infested epic. The song is so incredibly melodic that I haven’t heard a song that melodic since In Flame’ Swim. Add Helge’s catchy, yet incomprehensible vocals, plus a main melody that will get stuck in your head for years to the mix, and you have one of the best songs of the year. This song though is only matched by one gigantic epic of a song in Mana
. The first time I heard it, my jaw literally dropped to the ground. Starting out in a slow and almost melancholic pace and mood, it quickly turns gears into a lovely peace of musicianship. Starting at the flute solo, we get the best passage of music this year. At around 5:10 there is a build up that started to get me out of my seat, and at 5:30 I was already out. This amazing orchestration lasts to around the 8 minute mark, where it slows down a bit, but then gets back into a mellower epic tone. The last three minutes of this spectacle become frantic, but in a way that makes it seem calm at the same time. Yes, that is an odd description, but that is how I felt it went. The song ends on a nice note with the choir finishing it off.
has showed me how beautiful the genre of Viking metal can be. All throughout the album, I felt as if I was living the daily life of a Germanic Viking. I felt like burning, raping, and plundering with the best of them. Emotionally I was on top of the world for 80 minutes. The word Epic has had various meanings throughout its history. For this occasion, I am using the Ancient Greek’s version of it. This album is legendary.