About 4 years ago I got In Extremo's major label debut, "Weckt die Toten". I listened to it and asked a friend to review it. My aural tastebuds hadn't yet learned to appreciate their, um, unique kind of music. Unfortunately, my friend didn't like it too much either.

Then, a couple of months ago, I learned to virtually instantly appreciate Tanzwut. They gently nudged my tastebuds into liking German-language vocals, hardcore folk instruments (such as bagpipes) and even dance-like beats. I am not sure if In Extremo's "Sünder ohne Zügel" (meaning "Unbridled Sinner") would have received quite the same review without Tanzwut - which is a bit ironical, after all In Extremo seems to have been the band that started it all with regard to this genre.

Perhaps the most important things are that "Sünder ohne Zügel" features modern production values and is filled with some really good guitar riffs, possibly because of their new guitarist Der Lange. Where Tanzwut have evolved in a more dance-like type of music, In Extremo is much more metal with folk influences. But you're mistaken if you think you're going to hear some German-language Skyclad rip-off (though "Der Rattenfaenger" does have some ingredients known from said British band). "Stetit Puella" is more metal, "Omnia Sol Temperat" is really heavy (the kind of thing a mediaeval Tony Iommi might have written), "Nature Nous Semont" is a great song with very unusual instrumental sounds, "Lebensbeichte" could be the missing link between In Extremo and Tanzwut, and basically every track on this album has one or other cool feature. Never, however, does In Extremo cross the border from interesting to ludicrous. "Sünder ohne Zügel" is very likely the most challenging metal/rock album of the year. And it's not just challenging, no, it also contains a fair number of genuinely good songs.

This Hedningarna of metal have made an album that challenges both the lyrically and musically inclined. An unexpected pleasure.

Click here to buy or check out this CD



Written May 2002


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