Now why German band Eridu should be concerned with the legend of Lugalbanda from the ancient times of Mesopotamia is unclear. Even Rick Wakeman never managed that one. To be fair, the band clearly don’t work in half measures and provide not only a synopsis of the story but a glossary of the various deities, creatures and places.
In keeping with the theme, the opener starts with an oriental flavour but contrary to the claim, the belligerent fare that follows moves away from this and is more noteworthy for being an uncompromising fusion of epic death melodies. The unrelenting progress smacks of Behemoth. The musicianship is accomplished, and portrays warlike tableaux and turbulent scenes. “The Cavern” builds the picture up slowly before exploding magnificently. My hair stood on end as all hell breaks loose. The echoing vocals match the furious drumming. This marks a transition in the story, in which the ailing Lugalbanda is deemed to have special status, and “a cosmic battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness has begun”. Whilst appreciating the weight and gravity of this extreme, harsh and at times epic music, the theme was lost on me. Thanks to the glossary, I was able to establish that Enlil, Epsi and Nammu, who make pronouncements, are all gods, but this is where I have a problem. Am I reading a story, in which case I can do it in my own time, or am I listening to a piece of music? “Astral Warfare” told me I should be wallowing in the dark gloom with its tinges of epic heroism, rather than trying to work out the story. The theme provides a reference point, I suppose, but frankly I found it a distraction if you pay too much attention to it. “The Siege of Aratta” was dynamic and expansive, and is followed by an apparent obligatory concession to orientalism “Hymn for Utu”. “The Bewitching of Sumer” takes us back on the dark path. The spoken part interrupts it momentarily but this is one ferocious beast at the end of the day. After all this, I expected the final track “Lugulbanda” to be suitably climactic, and I have to say it didn’t disappoint in weight or impact. Even the oriental section which preceded the final flourish had the right flavour.
As a musical work, “Lugalbanda” is heavy. So too is it heavy thematically. The music clearly relates to the theme, but impressive as it is, I felt at times that this album became absorbed in its own grandiosity at the expense of continuity and flow.
(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)