SuidAkrA – Eternal Defiance
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
Seriously, these guys are just like clockwork. Every few years you give them a quick wind and they churn out a great album chock full of barbarian angst and quaint beauty.
Aw, did I just give away the ending? If you like Suidakra at all to being with, this was probably a foregone conclusion, so I’m not apologizing for it in any case. However, Eternal Defiance follows hot on the heels of what I believe to be the band’s two finest albums in Crogacht and Book Of Dowth, and the question on everyone’s mind (and by that I mean me) here is: what’s the overall direction? Did our darling warriors burn out after all that fairy mound business, or are they up for the hat trick? THAT spoiler I’m saving for a bit, at least.
Unless you’re really into the lyrics and trying to make out what Akki is rasping about, all the Roman-slaughtering going on here is fairly secondary to the music itself. Besides, poignant atmosphere and raw aggression is what this band is all about. The grisly sound effects kicking off “Storm The Walls” make this abundantly clear and, while it’s no “Over Nine Waves”, the gradual build of symphonic density does nearly as good a job for setting the stage. Less effective, I felt, was the proper opening song “Inner Sanctum”. It’s not just because I’m a committed speed addict either – the tempo shifts in this song just don’t sell compared to the band’s energy in later tracks. It feels like a mid-album plot builder, and not a face-melting opener.
And, while we miss that phenomenon on this album, the game is on with “Beneath The Red Eagle”, another more solid mid-tempo track that makes the best possible use of Tina Stabel’s husky and powerful vocals. I keep thinking that in most other settings, I would not like this woman’s voice, but she is simply incomparable with Suidakra. “The Mindsong”, the album’s first slower, acoustic piece, makes this as clear as anything, as her layered vocal work abruptly shifts Eternal Defiance into a tender, peaceful place.
Finally we get a proper overload of fury in “Rage For Revenge” and “Defiant Dreams”, though the sandwiched “Dragon’s Head” is one of the real gems of the album, along with the closing track, “Damnatio Memoriae”, which features the tremendous clean vocals of Marius Pesch. It’s on songs like this that I feel like Suidakra could play nothing but soft folk music and do it absolutely as well as their “day” gig. My point here is underscored extraordinarily by the band’s cover of Irish folk song “Mrs. McGrath”, and it’s about the best damn iteration I’ve ever heard.
Suidakra is awfully dynamic for a “melodic folk/death band”, and the reason that they put so many bands to shame in terms of unmatched consistency and sheer listen-ability comes down to an innate knack for honest delivery of deep and lasting compositional skill. Whenever the listener gets a chance to breathe amidst Antonik’s roaring, he or she can take note of the complex and often changing rhythmic pulse of the music (something that this band does very well, and for which they receive little recognition). On its softer side, you could easily miss recognizing the band altogether, as they change gears so expertly and thoroughly.
Though I wouldn’t say Eternal Defiance is Suidakra’s very strongest offering, they’re doing a bang-up job of what they do best. I would place this on par with Book Of Dowth and just a couple small steps beneath the indomitable Crogacht. Highly recommended to followers of the band, fans of other speedy melodic-death metal, and those looking for a more thoughtful, detailed, and folk-inspired extreme metal release.
4.0 // 5