Album Review: Feuerschwanz – “Memento Mori” (Folk Metal)

Written by Chrisy

Release Date: December 31st

Folk Metal from Germany

Label: Napalm Records

Simple humour is not uncommon in the music world. It’s even less uncommon in the world of Metal with bands dabbling in everything from Old Norse Tales, to Sea Shanties. Feuerschwanz (formed in 2004) mixes all of those elements together, creating their own tales of far off adventures, heroic deeds, and battles fought. Their latest album, ‘Memento Mori’, is no different; staying true to the traditional Feuerschwanz Folk Metal influences whilst continuing their own journey through different musical realms while pushing past the expectations that came with ‘Das Elfte Gebot’.

The title track, “Memento Mori” comes in right at the beginning and is both confident and catchy. It’s a metal anthem that pulls you up by your bootstraps to get you singing along with a drinking horn in hand. An epic composition of bagpipes, violin, and metal fuse together to create a powerful yet subtle tune that fans of any genre can appreciate.

“Untot im Drachenboot” sees Caribbean Pirates meet Vikings in a hilarious official video that debuted on Youtube on September 30th, 2021. Captain Feuerschwanz sails across strange waters only to be greeted by mysterious undead foes. Not only is it a dancing, head-banging track but, it brings the fun that Feuerschwanz is known for back into the spotlight. Prophetic whispers and epic solos are unmatched by any guitar, and sky-high vocals put this track at the top of my favourites from this album.

“Ultima Nocte” brings in heavy, powerful chanting with crazy drums and rhythmic guitars. It isn’t overly fast, or slow and it brings the right amount of “mmph!” when needed that’ll see you thrusting your fist into the air. Talented violin work by Johanna takes the spotlight just over midway through and lead into one hell of a guitar solo. If this song doesn’t have you howling along, then start over because you’re obviously not listening.

“Rausch der Barbarei” sees a heavier hit come around the corner and feed us a right hook. Hasher vocals are met with stronger riffs and mighty drums. It’s fast, it’s hard, and it’s fun. The gentle addition of bagpipes at the right moment create an almost desert-like atmosphere – as if we’re on the hunt for some ancient tomb or even a magic lamp. The rush of a Barbarian’s fury swirls around every verse, swinging and slashing at the unknown until exhaustion finally takes over. It’s the same frenzy we’re thrown into ourselves just as this song begins.

“Krampus” is a track about Saint Nicholas’ Demonic right hand. It’s a nod to the familiar tale of the fur-covered, horn-bearing, leek-wielding companion much of the European world, and recently the Western World, has come to know. It holds traditional instrumentals and vocals while playing on the campiness of a catchy chorus and fun beat.

“Feuer und Schwert” is quick and light with the perfect amount of instrumental to vocal contrast. Solos do not run shy in this track, pulling the end together in a high-pitched melody. In opposition comes “Das Herz eines Drachen” – a solemn ballad with sorrowful impact that hits on the notes of mourning and loss. Acoustics are brilliantly combined from the hurdy gurdy to the caressing of snares. It’s the very essence of fireside memorial, or traditionally painted Viking funerals. A boat is pushed into the waters, set ablaze halfway through this song’s journey, where a fallen loved one is sent to greet the Allfather in Valhalla. It’s a slow burn with a beginning I was unsure of at first but, it quickly pulled me in, forcing my hand on a repeat playthrough so I could take in the entirety of this dramatic track.

If there’s anything I know, it’s LOTR, and a track like “Rohirrim” summoned me just as the Rohirrim were summoned to the battle of Helm’s Deep by Gandalf the White. I can see the battlefield, picturing myself on horseback as I ride into battle. It’s mesmerizingly orchestrated with elegant highs, and foreboding lows. Even those familiar with such tales would feel a weariness but, it’s short-lived. I adore the perfect harmony of flutes, pipes, violin, and guitars while bass sets a subtle pattern and drums mimic hooves across battered ground.   It’s dominating and enchanting, bringing the memories of a legendary favourite back to the front of your mind.

“Am Galgen” and “Hannibal” are excellent tracks to follow, bringing the album’s end to completion while keeping a steady, quickened pace fueled by epic instrumentals, catchy vocals, and heavy metal we all adore. One cannot deny the simplicity, yet complex combination of orchestral skill with modern metal sound that gives a uniqueness to Feuerschwanz unlike any other.

The last track from this album is “Skaldenmet” with its bass-influential push making this a deep, dragging track that still loses none of the album’s momentum. There’s delicate flute, sludgy chords, and weighty drums rounded out by choir-like vocals that give this a throne room ballad-like feel that rounds out the journey. Once more we’re exited by talented solos, and skillful orchestration that makes me glad to know there’s an extensive deluxe edition for further enjoyment.

The Bottom Line

While I’m no expert in German (and I barely scraped by in Highschool) there’s no chance you won’t enjoy this album. It’s campy, fun, and catchy with perfect notes of folk, melodic, and even orchestra elements to enjoy. With musical powers like Captain Feuerschwanz, Johanna Von der Vögelweide, Rollo Schönhaar, Jarne Hodinsson, Prinz Hodenherz, and Hans der Aufrechte combining their efforts, it’s no wonder there is no lack of brilliance in this album. Tie the music with some classic stories and hilarious music videos and you’ll have a wonderful time at the very least laughing along. Feuerschwanz does a great job at not only keeping fans entertained but, providing epic tracks that make sure you don’t leave without one earworm.

Favourite Tracks: Untot im Drachenboot, Rohirrim, Ultima Nocte

FFO: Amorphis, Alestorm, and Corvus Corax

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