Can Thuringian pagan metal get better than this? I honestly believe not! But then again, I thought the same when “Ziuwari” was out in 2001. After 6 years of silence Menhir are back with their epitome of Thuringian pagan metal (melodic pagan black metal besed on stories about old gods and true episodes, mainly from the Merovingian time in the german land of Thuringia). Some label problems and the recording sessions’ perfectionism (that made them record guitars twice) delayed them, but the CD was finally released by Trollzorn / SMP, a new label with many releases in this genre!
The first thing worthy of mentioning is the excellent package. It is an A5 digipak with a 20 pages booklet, full of beautiful photos and text about the album’s concept. It is about the sad saga of “Hildebrand”, a father who returns to his homeland after many years and there his army fights against his son’s “Hadubrand” army, who thought him for an enemy. “Hildebrand” didn’t want this fight, but his son didn’t recognize him…
So the set for this album is epic and sad at the same time, something that reflects to the music. It is Menhir’s more mature and melancholic work so far, and maybe that’s why I like it the most. “Hildebrandslied” consists of 7 songs with duration of 42 minutes, offering us best quality pagan metal. With their unique ability of mixing extreme with acoustic parts and Heiko’s characteristic epic clean vocals changing in to black ones when needed, they managed to create another masterpiece. All of the songs are dominated by beautiful melodies in the guitars that are like always sticking into your mind. The compositions are enriched by brilliant orchestration using violins and some traditional instruments. The sound is very epic and most of the time at mid-tempo with a great variety in rhythm and intensity. All of their lyrics are of course as always in German.
When I first listened to the album the song that stood out was the 9mins epic hymn “Das Hildebrandslied – Teil I”. Later on, every song became a favourite; since there are some parts in each of them that cause extreme “musical pleasure”. The production and mixing is perfect, suitable for the music quality of this album. For me the most outstanding factor of “Hildebrandslied” is the much improved and very expressive vocals of Heiko, full of strength and sorrow at the same time. Of course it’s not only the “quality” of the vocals, but also the unbelievable melodies on them, that make Menhir the best at this genre. Let’s really hope that their next album will come out sooner, ‘cause 6 years is too long to wait, even though they worth it…
If you’ve never heard of Menhir, but you are into epic pagan metal you should try to get a copy of “Hildebrandsleid”. You will adore it. There is also a new edition released in 2009 by Trollzorn in jewel case. It contains the album, as well as a second CD including the first demo of the band “Barditus” that was never released in CD before. For me, simply put, it’s by far the best album I’ve listened to in 2007!! You can check them on the links to their official pages below.
Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos