Equilibrium – Waldschrein
Reviewed by Graham Henry
Waldschrein is the new EP from Germans Equilibrium. With a full-length planned for some time in 2014, this EP was released to give fans something to look forward to while they await a new album’s worth of material. Unfortunately for the fans, Waldschrein, though characteristically an Equilibrium album, falls far short of meeting the bar set by its predecessors, Turis Fratyr, Sagas, and Rekreatur.
Running just about 20 minutes, the EP only gives fans one new song, the title track “Waldschrein.” This track is, consequently, the true highlight of this short work. Beginning with the distinct, bouncingly happy, folk-inspired riff in the keyboards and guitars and developing into an excellent track of folk metal, it shows that the band has not been sitting idly by in the last several years since Rekreatur. The chorus even involves some clean vocals, something relatively new to Equilibrium. My main complaint about the song is that the main theme, which starts right as the song begins, is repeated a bit too frequently, rather than providing variations on a theme in the way of songs off earlier albums (“Unbesiegt” or “Aus Ferner Zeit” are good examples). This feels like lazy songwriting, from a band I cannot say I have accused of lazy songwriting in the past.
After the well executed title track, the EP begins to go downhill. “Der Strum” is a re-recording of a song from the debut album Turis Fratyr. I know that it has been a recent theme of Equilibrium to re-record their old songs, particularly after changing vocalists, but the band doesn’t really do anything different here. It feels like the song was added just to make the album longer – it offers nothing, though it too is solidly performed. The final track on the album is a much shorter acoustic version of the title track “Waldschrein,” keeping with another recent Equilibrium theme: recording acoustic versions of their songs. Given the short run length of this song however, it too feels like it was added just to extend the length of the album. Likewise, the albums third track “Zwergenhammer” is an ancient demo recording that the band has decided to bring out for this album. “Zwergenhammer” harkens back to the early days of Equilibrium, resembling some of the songs on Turis Fratyr. After listening to it, it becomes clear why it didn’t make that album – it is a bit slow, the melodies are a less pronounced, and after the first three minutes the song doesn’t really go anywhere, and just repeats itself with little variation.
The fourth song on the album, “Himmelsrand,” will, of course, appeal to the gamer crowd, because it is a cover of the main theme to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The cover is nicely done, adding a delicious taste of metal to a song that was already great, but this track would have fit better as a bonus track to a full length album of new material, rather than as a standard track on an EP filled with only one truly new song. My other complaints about this song are that first: it is too short, and second: that covering the theme from The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind would have been a better selection. [Editor’s note: Besides, who *isn’t* covering the Skyrim theme at this point?]
Overall, this EP is “ok.” It gives listeners an idea about where the band is going, and what they have been doing over the last three years, but that idea is a very small one. With only one track of truly new material, there isn’t a lot here to work with in terms of sound. “Waldschrien” is clearly the highlight of the album (as it was clearly supposed to be), but I struggle to understand why the band released this as an EP at the time that they did. This could easily have been a single, with “Waldschrein” and “Himmelsrand” rather than an “EP”, which gives fans the expectation of actual new material. If you like Equilibrium, give this EP a listen, and wait for the full length next year. Otherwise, just forego this and wait for the new album, which I expect will be much stronger than an EP that feels rushed and filled out with unnecessary material.
2.75 // 5