Review Summary: Experimentation that touches career suicide.
To really define and pinpoint an accurate description of Renegades
, the best analogy I can come up with would be to imagine the German sextet grabbing a load of puzzle sets, opening them all up and throwing them all into one pile in an attempt to make a bigger, more interesting picture out of them all. Considering how creatively shackled a lot of bands in metal are these days – following successful trends and formulas with strict execution – I have to tip my hat for at least attempting to craft an album that’s different, whether they succeed in their endeavours or not. Renegades
quite literally lends popular ideas from almost every style in metal today, and the results are as you’d imagine them to be: inconsistent. That, however, doesn’t stop Equilibrium’s sixth LP from being anything other than engaging and somewhat fun to listen to. “Renegades – A Lost Generation” opens with a stomping stadium-rock riff that’s accompanied with guttural screams – already forming the album’s contrasted elements with little shame – only to strip down to a melodic synth line reminiscent of Ennio Morricone’s “Here’s to You”. Initially grimacing at the juxtaposed elements, by the time the chorus entered the fray, I was sold; I knew what this album was going for.
In short, Renegades
doesn’t take itself seriously, and that approach was a wise one. You can feel out that Equilibrium were having a good time when they were writing these interesting, sometimes idiosyncratic, tunes. If they’d tackled this album with a profound and solemn mindset, this record would have fallen apart at the seams pretty quickly. No, there’s a meta undertone nestled at the heart of it all and it doesn’t go ignored. Melodeath is firmly embedded in the base of the album’s busy sound – the sweeping guitar passages on “Himmel Und Feuer”, “Moonlight” and “Final Tear” are clear indicators of sticking to the bread and butter of their earlier works – but it’s the other elements that really give the album some distinction and infamous status. The operatic cleans that support a lot of the tracks here, while cheesy, only authenticate the fantastical aesthetics of these songs. Sure, the melodies being strung together for these soaring vocal sections sound generic and borderline obnoxious at times, but they add to the experience in some way. Where they fail on an emotionally earnest level, you can’t deny they are catchy as hell to listen to. “Johnny B” is the crowning crescendo to Renegades
’ silliness: it’s lyrics are ridiculous and obscene, the music hits generic riffs and woodland-fantasy sounding electronics with a tongue-in-cheek presentation and yet, it’s weirdly fun to hear.
The band knows they push it to the absolute limits with “Johnny B” as well, that’s why they play it straight-faced with the song that proceeds it. “Final Tear” is the album’s heaviest song and the only track to step away from the bells and whistles this album largely pertains. By the time the track had ended it did make me ponder on what intentions Equilibrium had when they were writing this album. Essentially, Equilibrium are trolling their fanbase and the genre as a whole. Depending on how much emotional attachment you have to their previous albums will depend on whether you can laugh with them here or not. This is a huge experiment that will undoubtedly alienate long-time purists of the band, and I can totally understand why they’d be pissed off with hearing such a dramatic departure from their previous works. But with all that being said, I don’t claim to be a hardcore fan of Equilibrium, and without that devotion, I’ve looked upon this album based on what it presents, which is a goofy bit of fun that incorporates symphonic folk, metalcore, melodeath and pop with satirical matter gluing it all together. It’s a fascinating LP that, at the very least, had me smiling at the bombastic panache some of these songs had. Renegades
isn’t a great album, but I can respect the band’s daring leap into paradoxical territories. Rap segments aside, it’s harmless fun that I saw through to the end, but it may yet stain their reputation because of it.
SPECIAL EDITION BONUSES: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://www.nuclearblast.de/en/label/music/band/discography/details/5976485.71053.renegades.html