July 14, 2016 Suidakra – Realms of Odoric (Album Review)
For over twenty years, the Celtic Metal band Suidakra have infected Germany with their Black, Folk, and Death Metal influence. Created in 1994 by mastermind Arkadius Antonik, they have conceptually evolved since 1997’s Lupine Essence. Despite being known for releasing concept albums involving Celtic Mythology, their music has progressed from Pagan-Black Metal to a more Celtic-Melodic Death Metal aesthetic over time. While having faced a handful of lineup changes throughout their career, the latest ensemble consists of Antonik (vocals/guitar/orchestral arrangements), Lars Wehner (drums), Tim Siebrecht (bass), and Marius “Jussi” Pesch (guitar). Through all the growing pains that a band must face, Suidakra has consistently remained busy between touring across the globe and releasing eleven consecutive high-quality albums. With that in mind, it has been three years since 2013’s Eternal Defiance, and fans eagerly awaited the band’s twelfth studio release of Realms of Odoric, which finally saw the light of day on May 20th, 2016 via AFM Records.
A highly anticipated release, Realms of Odoric is considered to be the longest-running album in Suidakra’s history, complete with a total of twelve tracks plus one bonus. In addition, this is also their first not to be a historical concept piece. In fact, it is said originally the lyrics were written for a soundtrack on a collaborative Fantasy project between Antonik and longtime artist Kris Verwimp that began in 2013. Now, the Fantasy world shifts to a Metal direction as Realms of Odoric defines this inventive place with the use of growls, guitar riffs, and blackened atmospheres. Produced by Martin Buchwalter, and recorded at Gernhart Studios in Germany, it also features a handful of guest musicians that include Tina Stabel (vocals), Axel Römer (pipes), Matthias Zimmer (vocals, Perzonal War), and Sascha Aßbach (vocals, Fall Of Carthage). So, without further ado, it is time Suidakra delve into the band’s compelling world of Metal imagination.
Beginning with the introductory piece “Into the Realm,” it holds a dramatic Game of Thrones–Lord of the Rings vibe as the acoustics slowly awaken this fantastical feeling. Featuring an orchestral arrangement next, just before the familiar Suidakra style enters, the vocals are spoken and slightly whispered as the statement “The past is forced with each decision” resonates. Continuing with the soft atmospheric sound, “The Serpent Within” slithers in next before pushing its way to a full-blown blistering tune. The writing appears to be about shaping one’s destiny as “the serpent lurks inside.” Complemented by a few decent instrumental breaks that include a creative guitar riff interlude, it works well to keep one’s interest. Then a Combat-esque tune ignites with “The Hunter’s Horde” as the melody moves with an extensive amount of fortitude while Celtic elements continue to blend in.
Slowing down the tempo slightly, “Creeping Blood” is a mellow-paced song that generates a natural anticipation before elongated, distorted guitar riffs. One of the shortest tracks of the album, it goes into “Undaunted,” which comes on with force as thunderous drums and dramatic lyrics take over. It is here Stabel’s voice generates a dominating sound as she screams out lines such as, “No time to cry, no time to mourn.” Turning in a more dramatic direction, strings cut in during “Lion of Darcania,” which at first sounds eerie with its hidden atmospheric textures before progressing into an explosive medley and grueling vocals from Antonik. Eventually, it cools down to a near silence just before the strings return and the track climaxes before concluding with Stabel singing, “To leave behind this pain of doubt.”
As the album reaches the halfway point, “Pictish Pride” enters with peace and tranquility. The movement picks up as the guitar riff maintains the initial melody. While one of the more tranquil tracks off the album, it does continue with the sacrifice theme. Then shifting toward a more dramatic and dark direction, “Roads of Ruin” paints an image of a dead battlefield. Slowly accelerating into a heavier piece with a striking guitar riff, it is a soaring track provoking visualizes of wounds, loss, and despair. Picking the pace right back up, “Dark Revelations” moves towards an acoustic approach with “Braving the End.” At this point, this Fantasy world appears to showcase war, chaos, and destruction, with the latter track alone showing the pending loss of hope. The lyrics express how this person has waited far too long for their lover’s return, yet remaining hopeful and optimistic.
Balanced and well-planned, the aggression kicks back in on “One Against the Tide” as the growls brutally enter. A fast and angry piece, it is a much needed shot of aggression before the final battle-cry of “Cimbric Requiem.” Begun with soft acoustics and a dark atmospheric background, a soprano vocal chimes in and the music creates a visual of the aftermath from the destructive doom this Fantasy world has brought on. Then comes the bonus track, “Remembrance,” which is a reflective instrumental, officially concluding Realms of Odoric.
Overall, Realms of Odoric leads listeners into a disturbing Fantasy world. It is as though each character faces a struggle that surpasses the darkness that humanity only knows. Musically, it moves along with the lyrical emotion as it uses different styles from Celtic to Melodic Metal. With that all said, it is merely impossible for Suidakra to disappoint as they continue to push the limits through each album they put out. CrypticRock gives Realms of Odoric a 4 out of 5 stars.