Reviewed: August 2019
Released: 2019, Heathen Tribes
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
Blutfeld’s debut EP Kingdom of Mine is certainly an indication of a band with plenty of ambition to produce some truly epic death metal. But as it so perfectly illustrates, intentions will only get you so far.
The EP itself is a fairly brief offering, consisting of 6 tracks over 20 minutes. 2 of these tracks (totalling a quarter of the full runtime) are interludes, leaving us with 4 core songs. While in general it can be labelled as death metal, the EP does clearly have ambitions far beyond the typical sounds of the genre. Many aspects of the music root themselves in the deliberately simplistic approach of vintage heavy metal music, and while it certainly makes heavy use of melody, it is again in a classic sort of way, rather than the more modern sounds that might come to mind with the phrase “melodic death metal”.
Added to this are varying vocals and instrumental effects to try to craft something notably epic, but without being overly in-your-face or over-the-top about it. Kingdom of Mine is more likely to pummel the listener with horns and trumpets than blast beats and tremolo riffing, and the music often takes a more sedate marching pace. All told, it almost harkens to old school Viking metal like Bathory.
But while the intentions are bold and to be commended, the execution is sorely lacking. Where some death metal offerings fall flat as they try too hard to be brutal or extreme, this one almost has the inverse, often feeling like it’s not really trying hard enough. The vocals are a severe weak point, ranging from standard death metal at best to painfully weak gurgling that just sounds like someone gargling water. The production likewise feels weak and paper thin, and while a stellar production job isn’t really to be expected on a debut EP, it stands out as something necessary for this particular style of metal. The sound wants to be big and epic, but has no weight behind it.
“New Dawn” illustrates this issue perfectly. For one thing, it spends far too much time building up, consisting of 3 minutes of introduction for less than a minute of real pay-off. It desperately wants to be grand and bombastic, but there’s no power or force behind it all. It’s just a couple of very basic riffs alongside the weak harsh vocals and occasional light taps on the drums. It does give rise to something a bit more powerful in the closing 45 seconds or so, but by then it’s far too late.
“Victory or Defeat” does mark a bit of an improvement, and is certainly the best the EP has to offer, with more engaging instrumentation and pacing. Unlike most of the rest, this one actually has some dynamics behind the faux-epic build, but the weak vocals and mix still hold it back.
I can give Blutfeld credit for their ambition, but Kingdom of Mine just doesn’t have the right components to realise it. It’s going for a Bathory-esque epic extreme metal feel, but this one is more Octagon than it is Hammerheart.
2.) Natural Born Leader
3.) New Dawn
5.) Victory or Defeat
6.) Kingdom of Mine
Daniel T – Vocals and keyboards
Lord Flabriel – Guitars and bass
Samantha Kempster – Vocals (“Natural Born Leader”)
Hada Pixie – Vocals (“Kingdom of Mine”)
Jonas Hoffman – Drums