Weckt Die Toten!

In Extremo

Metal Blade Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Over the years, I've reviewed such a wide spectrum of hard rock and heavy metal that very little surprises me. I've listened to Nordic/Viking metal with so much machismo that the CD jewel box dripped it. I've listened to Christian death metal; I've listened to Satanic death metal. I've listened to hard rock from countries that you wouldn't expect to hear that kind of noise from.

But "German folk metal"? Rammstein meets Jethro Tull? That's kind of what listening to In Extremo and their American debut disc Weckt die Toten! is like. Mixing electric guitars, bass and drums with medieval instrumentation might sound like a recipe for disaster, but this German septet not only pulls it off, but makes it surprisingly enjoyable to listen to.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Now, I should mention right off the bat that I don't understand a word of German - and not a word of these songs are in English. The short description of the band and a few of their songs in English helps, but I wish there had been more for me to try and comprehend. I mean, these guys could be singing recipes for pancakes for all I know - not that it would matter anyway, 'cause even though I don't know what the hell they're saying, that doesn't mean I can't like the songs.

Needless to say, I'm at a little bit of a disadvantage when it comes to talking about the individual songs on Weckt die Toten! - as well as signaling out the members, whose information was also written in German. (Maybe one of our readers in Germany can help me out here?) But music is indeed a universal language, and the songs that are featured therein speak a powerful tongue. Tracks like "Ai vis lo lop," "Hiemali Tempore" and "Palästinalied" all speak at the incredible power that can be achieved with the merging of electric and acoustic instrumentation. The use of bagpipes and flutes on these 12 tracks is brilliant, and it actually feels like this musical marriage is natural.

What impresses me about In Extremo is that the overall sound of this combination is sincere. It's one thing for a band to try something new for commercial purposes. I may be totally wrong, but I don't get that vibe with this band. It truly feels in the music like this is their calling, and that the members are pouring their souls into these songs. Somehow, I don't think you can fake that.

Weckt die Toten! is an album you might not pick up on first glance, but all it takes is one listen to show you that In Extremo are most definitely on to something here. They already have a second album out in the States (which we'll get to very soon); here's hoping it does even a better job than this wonderful disc.

Rating: A-

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