One of the little pleasures left as I grow older is checking on old farts that I used to listen to and discovering that they are the same old farts I used to love. And I still love them! So as with TWISTED TOWER DIRE, SLOUGH FEG and EXILED earlier this year, I was thrilled to learn that the new Wotan album is finally out, or at least one step before being released.
WOTAN have been working on this album for many years. I remember updates with information on the recordings and a couple of songs finding their way as bonus tracks in Return to Asgard EP and frankly at some point I thought that it would never be released. Yet, here it is: brand new and great.
WOTAN have always been challenging themselves to create more powerful albums without losing their trademark sound and this is what I love most. While their first album is a milestone of underground epic metal and the second is a step further, therefore WOTAN could not settle for less. They focused all their forces and drained inspiration from the very best (MANOWAR, HEAVY LOAD, RAINBOW, BATHORY) in order to write their own soundtrack for the epic poem of the Nibelungs and for me they managed to do it.
The album consists of 18 tracks and it is quite lengthy, yet it is not boring. The opener “In The Land of The Nibelungs” is a little bit rusty, a mid tempo song with an unwanted “lalala” somewhere in the middle yet after this the album really takes off: fast songs like “Deadly challenge”, “Untamed queen”, “Schilbung and Nibelung” are a stunning force of epic metal, while more mid-tempo songs like “Kriemhild’s Dream”, “Fateful Love” or “Balmung (The Gold,The Sword &The Magic Cloack)” add a more add a more medieval ambience to the story. And last but note least the three epic ones “The Curse of the Ring”, “SIgfried’s Funeral March” and “Journey to Vengeance” unfold Wotan’s true possibilities. Each one of them is a genuine masterpiece of epic metal music both in terms of composing and performing. I know that Wotan are no virtuosos and their music is simple, plain without complex tempo changes however “SIgfried’s Funeral March” carries the true essence of heavy metal: passionate, powerful and sentimental but not lachrymose. A true funeral song for a fallen warrior, a composition that Wotan should be proud of and the true climax of the story.
A nod should be also given to Vanni Ceni, the singer of Wotan. Though his heavy Italian accent might annoy some listeners, his performance is a stellar one. He literally breathes every lyric of the songs and manages to transfer the listener into a dreamy yet intense journey throughout mythology.
To make a long story short I’d say that this is one of the highlights of this year. I know that WOTAN aren’t as flashy as ATLANTEAN KODEX, SMOULDER or other retro-epic bands that are around nowadays yet I sincerely believe that WOTAN is one of those bands that have given their heart and soul for their music. And for this I believe that they deserve a listening.