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Harpyie – Minnewar

by Mark Machlay at 11 July 2021, 8:07 AM

HARPYIE is a German folk rock band with strong heavy metal influences from the Ease Westphalian town of Bad Oeynhausen. Founded in 2011 by former members of the band COMANDER KEEN and others, the group was named after the “harpy”, a mythical creature in Greek mythology. They released their first album “Blindflug” in 2012 with the music video for “Blood Brothers” preceding it and played at the music and culture festival “Wave-Gotik-Treffen” as well. Quick to make a name for themselves, in 2013, they released a video for “Sturmvögel” to aid with crowdfunding their next album “Willkommen im Licht” and were selected to play “Wacken Open Air 2013”. Unfortunately, founding member Michael von Ullrichstein who played bagpipes would leave the band that year and drummer Kelaino the Dark would leave the next year. Their third album “Freak Show” released in 2015 would be crowdfunded as well under the working title “The Hostile third album”. Two years later, the band released “Aurora” and played at “Wacken Open Air” once again in 2017. It was announced on May 1st 2020 that the band would “go their separate ways” regarding founding violinist and singer Mechthild “Witch Violin” Janda and brought on Brian on hurdy gurdy, now the only “historical” instrument in the band.

The band has seen a lot of growing pains over the years which partly explains why their latest album “Minnewar” is a collection of covers rather than originals that were cultivated over the pandemic period. This definitely seems like a band re-assessing and re-discovering who they are after losing many founding members and shedding many of the “medieval” or “historical” instruments – going from a band of seven members in the beginning down to only five currently. They have reinterpreted several folk metal classics such as IN EXTREMO’s “Vollmond”, SUBWAY TO SALLY’s “Kleid aus Rosen”, and SALTATIO MORTIS’s “Spielmannsschwur” featuring members of SALTATIO MORTIS. “Minnewar” is the band’s attempt as a tribute and to pay homage to the medieval rock and folk metal music scene that is constantly growing and may see a huge surge in popularity if sea shanties on the app TikTok are any indication of the popularity of this style of music.

Unfortunately, an album of covers, especially when it’s released three years after a somewhat successful previous album seems like an odd move to make when given all this time away from live shows provided by the pandemic. HARPYIE has gone through some growing pains with some critics calling their early albums “half baked” and particular harsh to singer Aello commenting that he “has a lot to learn”. They seemed to have come into their own with “Freak Show” and reached even higher with “Aurora”. They start “Minnewar” off strong with LUNA LUNA cover “Wenn ich tot bin” – heavy, fast and very modern blending of medieval/folk metal. Next, FAUN’s “Tanz Mit Mir”, Aello has shown his growth, taking over most of the singing when the original had half-and-half male and female parts. But it kind devolves from their and many of the songs seems stripped of their beauty, tending toward more aggressive revisions when the songs contained more tender sections and made the whole album seem rather static. I would have preferred an exploration of new material during this downtime, given the turnover and introduction of new members rather than a rehashing of other people’s material.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 5
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Wenn ich tot bin (Luna Luna Cover)
2. Tanz mit mir feat. Mr. Hurley & die Pulveraffen (Faun Cover)
3. Spielmannsschwur feat. Saltatio Mortis (Saltatio Mortis Cover)
4. Krabat (ASP Cover)
5. Es gibt nur Wasser (Santiano Cover)
6. Rapunzel (Letzte Instanz Cover)
7. Thekenmädchen (Versengold Cover)
8. Blau wie das Meer (Mr. Hurley & die Pulveraffen Cover)
9. Vollmond (In Extremo Cover)
10.Kleid aus Rosen (Subway to Sally Cover)
11.Willst du (Schandmaul Cover)
Aello – Vocals
Brian – Hurdy Gurdy
Podargo – Guitar
Jean – Bass
Kayran – Drums
Record Label: Metalville


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