Weckt die Toten!
Surprise metal record of the year here: On Weckt die Toten! (“wake the dead”), In Extremo, all native Germans, mix potent mid-paced metal with old minstrel tunes, most of which were written between the 8th and 15th centuries and are sung in the respective native tongues, played on the standard modern instruments (guitar, bass, drums) and traditional ones (bagpipes, namely). What’s more interesting than the fact that In Extremo successfully (and I stress that) pulls all this off is how, through their sheer talent at doing such, the band manages to draw the parallels between ancient folk music and heavy metal, mostly in rhythm and chord progressions. So, not only is Weckt die Toten! a refreshingly spirited record with loads of character, it also serves as an archeological dig of previously unearthed heavy metal artifacts.
Metal Blade Records, 2828 Cochran St., Suite 302, Simi Valley, CA 93065-2793; http://www.metalblade.com