Suidakra - Eternal defiance 3.5/5

Reviewed: 7-1-13


1. Storming the walls
2. Inner sanctum
3. Beneath the red eagle
4. March of conquest
5. Pair dadeni
6. The mindsong
7. Rage for revenge
8. Dragon's head
9. Defiant dreams
10. Damnatio memoriae

Suidakra just never seem to stop chugging along, regardless of any changes that occur around chieftain Arkadius Antonik. With long–time bassist Marcus Reiwaldt replaced by former guitar fill-in Tim Siebrecht, and Marius Pesch taking them up to a 4-piece for the first time in a while it’s a new-look band on display to some degree, but despite a few notable but not dislikeable changes to the style, the German-celtic war machine just keeps rumbling away nicely.

‘Eternal defiance’ is another concept CD that largely builds on the head of steam built up by the stunning ‘Crogacht’ and its slightly lesser follow-up ‘Book of dowth’, but shows more notable tweaks to the established formula that results in some good and slightly not-so-good news.

Notable straight away from the theatrical intro track, but continuing through most of the first song proper and several others thereafter, are thundering orchestral passages that call to mind the likes of Jerry Goldsmith’s soundtracks for historical epics and Star Trek battle sequences.

Largely, these arrangements are well integrated and don’t drown anything else out, but the meticulous efforts to wedge them carefully into the songs can leave things feeling a little cluttered. True opener “Inner sanctum” suffers the most in this regard and its fluctuations between grandeur, pounding intensity and roaring full-on melodeath make for a slightly bitty opening to proceedings.

The most evident alteration throughout though is that the melodic and epic elements of their existing approach have been beefed up somewhat, and while there are still plenty of clattering burst of blasting intensity, on the whole the songs have a less aggressive bent to them than may be expected.

Regular guest vocalist Tina Stabel enjoys her biggest contribution to date, appearing on several songs besides the expected acoustic ballad, while Antonik’s increasingly powerful clean vocals also feature prominently throughout. With piper Axel Römer also featuring more than ever, it could be argued that Suidakra have finally crossed the line into full-blown folk metal rather than their usual ‘celtic melodic death metal’ style. Songs like “March of conquest”, with its steady tempo and majestic clean duet chorus certainly provide more of a heroic, horn-swigging vibe than usual, but there is plenty of variety on show that will reassure even the most cynical that Suidakra aren’t descending into self-parody.

The female vocals, while more frequent, are actually used with a little more imagination than they have been on some Ms. Stabel’s previous appearances. The expected acoustic ballad “The mindsong” is in truth a little mawkish, but is generally quite pleasing if a little repetitive; more unanticipated is her sudden seizing of the chorus on the power metallish “Beneath the red eagle” and other more subtle appearances as a background vocalist throughout.

If there is a nit to be picked, it is that while none of these modifications are inherently negative in their own right, they tend to break the flow of the songs up somewhat and strip the CD of the relentless focus that drives the best of Suidakra’s works forward. With the heavier sections more often than not representing breaks in more restrained songs rather than the other way around, it feels almost like they are holding back something and the CD never really builds any consistent momentum.

After re-establishing both Suidakra’s direction and credibility over the last few CDs after the ‘Command to charge’ debacle, ‘Eternal defiance’ may just represent Antonik feeling the 7 year itch again with his band’s established style. It would be hard to grudge him a little restlessness after nearly 20 years in the trenches, and while it may not rank among the very best Suidakra CDs, at least he is expressing his desire for change in a more appropriate way this time.




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