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Strydegor – Isolacracy

Strydegor
Isolacracy
by Max Elias at 29 November 2020, 5:47 PM

Germans seem to really like their folk metal, from the epic to more aggressive bands like SUIDAKRA. Isolacracy is the fourth album from German Viking-inspired metal act STRYDEGOR—I say they are Viking-inspired because Strydegor is a figure from Norse mythology—and it definitely leans in the direction of epic. The first track, “Beware the Beast Man” sounds like a classic NWOBHM type title, but functions as the album’s atmospheric intro. On “Innocence Corroded”, the riffing is potent and straightforward, reminding one of older IN FLAMES or ARCH ENEMY, especially when it comes to the darker tone of the guitars. The choruses are also more melodic both instrumentally and vocally, which is a classic ARCH ENEMY move. The band also makes use of instruments like keyboards and synths to layer multiple textures on top of what is already going on, especially during the breakdown.

In contrast to the headstrong and brash opener, “Lucid” presents an air of mournful beauty with its opening melody, and even though heavy drums and guitars soon join, the soaring leads preserve that effect. The song also shifts between clean and harsh vocals regularly, and not just during acoustic portions of the song. Vocalist Florian Kunde is able to handle himself in that respect with no issues; his growls sound as if he is channeling IN FLAMES and, though understandable, his clean singing is rough enough that the band can still convincingly portray themselves as metal. And whereas there was only a very short solo on “Innocence Corroded”, there is more space given to the solo on “Lucid”, and accordingly it develops nicely from its melodic beginning to a cerebral tapping lick and back again. “Lucid” is to me a better representation of the direction the band decided to take this album in, with subsequent songs like “Stars and Strife” sharing the pattern of alternating vocal styles, understated but ever-present melody lines, and tasteful soloing.

I said before that Isolacracy feels like a step in the direction of epic-sounding metal, and that is evident by the iclusion of instrumental interludes not just at the beginning, but also throughout the album. “Into the Unknown” is a tension-building minute and fifteen seconds of soft acoustic guitar and atmospheric elements, that leads quite well into the galvanizing “Escape”, which also has plenty of acoustic and calmer moments, but which rescues the adrenaline metal is supposed to have in the choruses.

Apart from “Innocence Corroded” I think the heaviest song on the album is “Enemy Inside” simply because it does not flow in and out of acoustic passages like many other songs on the album. The riffs are compelling enough although nothing too revolutionary; they are mostly blocks of shifting power chords, which happens to be a style of melodic death metal riffing I don’t like very much. The technique sounds okay but also feels generic if relied upon too much. Nevertheless “Enemy Inside” is a good song. I think my favorite riffs that STRYDEGOR have come up with are the pedal-tone parts on “As April Slowly Fades” though. They are such precise and climatic bursts of intensity that contrast beautifully to the slower body of the song.

All in all STRYDEGOR has produced a formidable album with a good amount of variety in pacing and structure to hold listeners’ interests. It is not on the level of an instantly classic MELODIC DEATH METAL work like Colony or Slaughter of the Soul, or more recently, MORS PRINCIPIUM EST’S Seven, but maybe I think that because I do not like the epic and more progressive side of MELODIC DEATH METAL that much as a rule. I do know that despite the name, STRYDEGOR at least on this album have nothing to do with Viking mythology. The band has also said that this is something new for them in terms of how progressive the music is, so for other similarly inclined metalheads, their earlier work might prove more appealing.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Musicianship: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
  1. Beware the Beast Man
  2. Innocence Corroded
  3. Lucid
  4. Stars and Strife
  5. World in Your Hands
  6. Into the Unknown
  7. Escape
  8. Enemy Inside
  9. As April Slowly Fades
  10. Oceans
  11. Still Alive
Lineup:
Martin Schmidt – Bass
Daniel Hauschild – Guitar
Florian Kunde – Guitar/Vocals
Immanuel Promnitz – Drums
Record Label: MDD Records
     


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