A Revival of Germanic Spirit

“A hissing arrow flies straight a thousand feet high”
– Liu Kai, 946-996 [1]

WotanRedivivus

Artist: de Bilskirnir
Release
: Wotan Redivivus (full-length album)
Record company
: Darker Than Black Records
Year:
2013
Language
German/English
Genre
Ode to Germanic Spirit

Original English text by Poswicht
Dutch translation by Degtyarov (klik hier voor de vertaling)

wodan

“The German language honoured once again”

It is difficult to release German black metal under any sort of pagan label. Not because there’s a lot of good bands vying for attention, but rather because near all German “pagan” metal is utter tripe. The common failure that unites most bands, aside from the music they make, is their infantile and tragically lacking command of the German language. Another problem is that there is much potential in the themes of old gods and ancestral Germanic culture wasted on eye-rollingly bad presentation.

Strrrrrrrrijdvooooooooooolk

Only a scant few bands are able to evoke this völkisch spirit of German identity. Attempts to separate pagan mythology and themes from everything German robs the music of all emotional meaning. Thus it comes as little surprise that so much of German pagan metal is primarily concerned with the celebration of alcohol and werewolves.

Bilskirnir is a somewhat low-profile but nonetheless important band (if a one-man project can be called that) that avoids any such pitfalls. Many of the old Bilskirnir releases exude a raw power mixed with occasionally brilliant lyrics; their sound reminds me of an old French band from Toulon. “Feuerzauber” remains unforgettable, as a rousing tribute to Germanic spirit:

“Feuerzauber, Surtur’s Lohe
gleißender Schein, erhellet die Nacht
beim Flammenschein den Schwur zu schwören
Germaniens Söhne halten getreu die Wacht”[2]

There has been an undeniable progression of Widar’s style towards a more complex, technically accomplished style that has unfortunately diminished this raw energy and power somewhat, but nonetheless continues to be Widar Redivivussomething unique. This is also coupled with the unusual mix of German and English-language songs. Naturally, the best songs tend to be the German ones, whereas the majority of English songs appears somewhat more interchangeable when it comes to lyrics.

Initially, Wotan Redivivus leaves an impression of a surprisingly warm and technical style that continues a trend that could already be noticed on earlier releases. The sound quality of the instruments is markedly improved, contributing to the overall more pleasant, but decidedly less raw listening experience. This is further compounded by the strange mix of Widar’s vocals. They, too, are less raw and have definitely suffered, having somewhat lost that magical power that originally drew me to Bilskirnir.

On the other hand, the album features its most complex and enjoyable compositions to date. “Der Wolkenwanderer” is a musical interlude with a structure reminiscent of mediaeval music and even a flute to accentuate. Similarly, there is an instrumental outro, “Der Raben Heimkehr”, that rounds the album out musically and thematically. The other songs on the album are varied, featuring complex riffs and much improved percussion. In short, the songwriting is thoroughly enjoyable.

Lyrically, Wotan Redivivus remains steadfastly Bilskirnir, presenting a völkisch tribute to the Germanic gods, which is however weakened by the muddled quality of Widar’s voice, making the actual song-lyrics somewhat inaccessible. One of the greatest strengths of Bilskirnir, the well-written and clearly-audible text, is therefore lost. It was that strength that made earlier songs such as “Dem Feind Entgegen” and “Bis Germanien Erwacht” so incredibly powerful.

Overall, Wotan Redivivus is an album that falls somewhat short of earlier releases such as the incredible In Flames Of Purification. While undoubtedly technically superior and more varied than earlier releases, it does not offer the same power and is not quite varied enough to really reach old heights. It is by no means a bad release, however. The spirit of Bilskirnir still permeates every song on this album. It is possible this release is limited by the roughness of its mix, but compared to what constitutes black metal nowadays, the spirit of this album is still unquestionably superior.

Ganon

Line-up:
Widar – all instruments, vocals

Tracklist:

1. Siegsonne
2. Never-dying Light
3. Blood and Spirit
4. Wotan redivivus
5. Der Wolkenwanderer
6. Vorväter
7. Söhne Muspells
8. Muspellheim
9. As This World Ends
10. Der Raben Heimkehr

Total running time: 44:36

Notes:
[1] Liu Kai 柳开 “On the frontier 赛上” “鸣骹直上一千尺”

[2]Raging fire, Surtur’s blaze
Blazing light brightens the night
To swear the oath by fire’s glow
Germania’s sons steadfastly hold vigil”

See also:
Our review of HalgadomHeimstatt
Our review of HeldentumWaffenweihe

N.B. It has come to my attention that there is an ad displayed below this post for people who are not logged in and who do not have AdBlock. Don’t worry – we will soon upgrade this site so that you won’t have to go through any effort to not see those ads anymore. Until then, you can remove the AIDS yourself by installing AdBlock. Happy hunting.Degtyarov

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