SuidakraHailing from Düsseldorf in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany, Suidakra have been plying their trade now for over two decades. Originally ‘Gloryfication’ and delivering a hybrid of thrash and death metal, the four piece changed direction, embracing a more mythological outlook with heavy Celtic influences and thus shifted towards the folk end of the Melodic Death Metal spectrum. Despite numerous line up changes over the years, the band have consistently put releases out and are now set to land their twelfth album, “Realms Of Odoric”. I’m not a folk metal fan by any means, but there is potential for hidden gems in every genre. Onwards!

The introductory “Into The Real” acts as a scene setter. With the folkish undercurrent, augmented by choir like ‘aaahs’ and samples of wind and waves, it gives a slight fantasy feel as the clean melodic line shifts to distorted chords and folkish tones. With a deep, clear voice, the narrator lays out some statements, building the feel before it finally kicks in. “The Serpent Within” opens up with a steady distorted riff reminiscent of Dark Tranquillity but with the folkish overtures of Eluviette. With harsh growled vocals and a hammering pace, the rhythm and vocals come off like any death metal track, but the added traditional lines add a rich melodic aspect to the track. Clean vocal delivery in the chorus provides a good contrast to the rawer verses and the dramatics given by the changes in sound and feel come off great. It really flows well with the initial atmosphere crafted by the introductory scene setting track, sitting more comfortably on the death metal side of the spectrum with its riffs and melodic lead progressions.

“The Hunter’s Horde” continues the dramatic building theme. With a traditional melody ringing out underneath the whispered vocal line, it builds up before exploding in an energetic onslaught of melodic metal fury. Blistering drums and pounding riffs lead in to a tightly controlled harmony line melody for the chorus before it shifts up a gear to a rapidly delivered verse, heavy on the blast feel drums and tremolo picking riffery, buzzing away. With some spoken word styled delivery in the melodic breakdown, it begins to build once more, culminating in a return to the chorus which slips to a blistering solo before the final run.

“Creeping Blood” keeps the ominous tension building theme for its intro and it retains this feel throughout given its purpose as a filler or transitional track, aimed at boosting the mood. Pounding heavy and ominous, it sets the scene well with the ominous breathing samples and sinister raspy talk of evil magic, leading up to “Undaunted” which has a brighter feel to it. Part due to the folky lead melody, part due to the good death metal groove riffs underneath the melody but mostly due to the female vocals. Delivered with attitude but cleanly and with some passion, they work well with the intense pace and harsh sound, creating an overall solid effort.

“Lion Of Darcania” begins with some pounding drums, subtle string section and male choir augmentation before it explodes into a powerful and dark, heavy series of riffs and complex drum patterns. Bringing back the harsh male vocals, it keeps the raw and heavier sound going, adding more flair to the musical delivery and helping paint a vivid picture of the story unfolding within the lyrics, a fitting soundtrack and atmosphere for a tale of a hero. “Pictish Pride” has a more solemn tone to it. The piano melody, whilst bright in sound has a mournful quality to it, augmented by the string section and slow pace. Though the pounding war drums and Celtic styled melody coming in lightens the feel, it explodes to life with a brisk pace and hook laden melodic riff. Harsh vocally, any sorrow from the intro is discarded as this lighter sounding progression gives a sense of invigoration. Clean harmony vocals in the chorus bring a sense of togetherness along with the empowering message behind it and this track lifts the mood of the album significantly at this stage.

“On Roads To Ruin” brings back the powerful and epic styled delivery. Cutting riffs, tight melodies and dynamic vocals, ranging from raspy whispers to death metal growls, all backed up by a powerful rhythm and subtle but clever synth augmentation progresses the epic feeling journey further, whilst “Dark Revelations” acts as the dramatic segment of the story. With a crushing melodic death metal delivery, it is brisk and decisive with its delivery. Subtle folkish elements creep through but this track firmly swings it back to the deathlier side of things with its cutting leads, melodic and powerful soloing and blistering riffs.

With the sudden curveball in the story, it is fitting that “Braving The End” follows. Stripped back, it begins with some tension building drums and clean, passionate and emotional vocals. Telling a story of tragedy and loss, its sorrowful and poignant delivery only increases with the faint guitars and male vocal line which is delivered softly, again with raw passion and feeling. As the vocal duties switch and back and forth, painting a tale of loss, strings join in and the track takes on a life of its own, growing in intensity and volume. Solid progressions, epic backing vocals, soaring string lines, energetic drums and vocal harmonies stand out, showing a different side to the band. Following on from the three back to back dramatic and powerful tracks, “One Against The Tide” brings the metallic edge back. With a melodic onslaught of folk metal, backed up with powerful riffs and harsh vocals, it explodes to life, pulling the album out of its dip in pace by the scruff of the neck, breathing some fire back into the delivery, rousing it for the final run of the album.

Closing the album and ending the epic adventure detailed within, “Cimbric Requiem”. A melodic, symphonic and dramatic track which is predominantly instrumental, save for some ‘aaah’ vocal lines. With a grandiose feeling to it, the track brings a finality to the album. For those with the enhanced edition, we get one last treat, the bonus track “Remembrance”. With a darker, more sorrowful tone to it, the slightly hypnotic melody lines and deep bass provided by the piano draw you in one final time. Distorted guitars finally join in with softly delivered male vocals. Building in drama with added string section sounds and a feeling of loss emanating from it, this extras track acts as maybe a jumping off point for a new story.

Overall, Suidakra have churned out a decent effort here. Engaging, dramatic, melodic and atmospheric, it lays out a good solid story with a great musical backdrop, blending aspects of Scandinavian Melodic Metal with the Traditional and Celtic undertones of Folk.

(7/10 Fraggle)