Equilibrium – Armageddon (Nuclear Blast)

Genre: Folk/Symphonic Metal

Equilibrium have attempted to take a darker path with Armageddon – a decision shaped by recent world events – and there’s a sense that the Germans could be a more serious outfit as a result.

That’s not to say they’ve ditched their punchy, fist pumping hooks (one play of Erwachen proves that), or abandoned their folky playfulness (see Zum Horizont) – it’s just that the quintet are showing us a different (slightly) meaner side.

Listen to Katharsis and you’ll find Equilibrium’s trademark melodic bombast underscored by a menacing, martial stomp, while impressive closer Eternal Destination – by far Armageddon’s heaviest offering – is a crushing Nordic battle hymn, closer in spirit to Bathory than much of modern folk metal.

There’s nevertheless plenty of room for some good ‘ol cheese though, which is either great fun or slightly out of place, depending on how you approach Equilibrium: after a promising start, for example, Born to Be Epic unveils a grating synth fiff that screams ‘reach for the lasers’ and Helden melds groove metal with heroic power rock before someone inexplicably chucks a tinny Casio keyboard into the mix.

Still, the band have explored new territories with their fifth opus… and could yet embrace the dark side more wholeheartedly.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Call To Arms