XIV Dark Centuries – “Waldvolk” CD / LP / Limited Edition Wooden Boxset (Einheit Produktionen)
Battle Helm Rating
Prepare yourselves for the fiery pagan majesty of ‘Heidnischer Thüringer Metal’!!! Venerating nature and the Germanic gods alongside the history of their ancestors, XIV Dark Centuries have been going since the late 90s, and are regarded as one of Germany’s first pagan metal bands, during which time they’ve released 3 prior albums. Despite enduring line up changes, the band remain a closely knit formation given former musicians re-join such that they still have 3 founder and 2 longtime members! Clearly something of a cult band, XIV Dark Centuries have toured with Suidakra and Waylander, played festivals like Summer Breeze, Party San, Ragnarök (several times) and even Wave Gotik Treffen. Now comes “Waldvolk” and I can see what all the fuss is about, for it is a truly mighty experience, mixing the likes of Thulcandra with Ensiferum in 7 bold new tracks and 3 re-recorded oldies all of which are deeply connected to the forests of their native Thüringia. But what really sets this band apart are the standout twin guitar melodies that bring both pagan fire and heart melting passion together, setting my soul aflame time and again throughout this incredible release. Added to that are the versatile vocals of Michel, who matches his axemen with his own versatility of deathly growls, blackish screaming and clean, soulful singing all topped off by furious double bass drumming at times, while during other moments serene atmospheric flutes and gentle orchestrals – wow, talk about a mindblowing experience! Thundering in with the epic grandeur of ‘Skogafulka’, rich entwining melodies fast and slow capture your heart amid hyperspeed double bass drumming and harsh vocals which do not let go as baritone pagan background vocals lay the final blade to your neck. Opening with nothing short of a beautiful flowing melody, stirring warrior vocals grace ‘Ich bin das Feuer’, a slower and somewhat more laid back piece although the furor is still there with the double bass still pedaling away during the more frantic moments, but man, those guitar melodies are undeniable especially once those long, tender solos get going…..Beginning with acoustics, a violin, folk percussion and singalong ‘Julenzeit’ takes off as a spiraling guitar melody sends you into total ecstasy while the hurdy gurdy continues, culminating every so movingly – totally awesome. However, there’s no holding back on ‘Runibergun’ as the pagan horde charge amid a barrage of double bass drumming, majestic warrior choirs, and yes…those ever so lethal high speed guitar melodies sending the blood racing one last time on the field of glory. Still remaining true to themselves and their fans across the years, these guys have it all!!!!