Metal-CD-Review: XIV DARK CENTURIES – Gizit Dar Faida (2011)

Country: German – Style: Pagan / Folk Metal

1. Westwärts 02:19
2. Zeit der Rache 06:32
3. Schlachtgesang 03:57
4. Donars Söhne 05:38
5. Hinauf zum gold’nen Tor 03:41
6. Eichenhain 03:14
7. Brennen soll das alte Leiden 04:55
8. Eine Wanderung 04:02
9. Runenraunen – Eine Wanderung II 03:44
10. Surtur erwacht 05:19
11. Ausklang 03:05

The final revelation of the Pagan Metal genre ?

Foreword: 2011 is the year for a German Pagan Metal band named XIV Dark Centuries to celebrate their ‚revival‘ – well, they haven’t been gone, but it took about 5 years for them to come back with a new album. And this is Gizit Dar Faida ! So, let us start with this brand-new work from XIV Dark Centuries that many of us have been longing for (oh my, how quick I am this time !)…

Review: Now, what wold fit better for an opener than a rather calm and a little epic instrumental ? That’s right, it comes in shape of Westwaerts, that indicates the overall ‚direction‘ of Gizit Dar Faida. Well, at least a geographical one (relevant for the story)  – but not yet in terms of the musical style. It is nice and smooth, however; at last it is nothing too special, and by far not as epic as some of the intros we can hear on the albums of other pagan-orientated metal bands. Naturally this has to be addressed to the lack of both vocals and metal elements here, almost any band could have made this intro – there are no individual features in this one.

But then we have the opener, Zeit Der Rache. Now, this is XIV Dark Centuries to their fullest; just like we know and love them. A powerful and very ‚onward‘-like instrumental meets the harsh voice of the lead singer, who is indeed altering his pitch of voice every now and then. As always, we can listen to some sophisticated mythical-historical lyrics that are presented in German. It is a strong and ‚tasty‘ opener, that won’t let any fan (whether its XIV Dark Centuries or the genre in general) down – however, the arrangements and ideas do not seem to be too innovative at all, which is a general problem of the genre. Next one up is Schlachtgesang, a track that can only be brutal an epic; just as the title indicates. And hell, it is. Strong guitar riffs that sound harsh and melodic at the same (one of the natural strengths of the band) are building up the musical background for this one; while the lead singer and his mates are literally celebrating a Pagan Metal festival for the listeners. The most impressionable moments can be found in the absolutely coherent choral passages, just like on the – strong – albums before. Once again, nothing too new in this one – but it still is a lot of fun, if not even one of the best tracks on this new album.

Reaching Donars Sohne, one can surely assume that the metal heads who are capable of the German language will take their advantage now (at the latest). Well, it is an advantage – but we all know that music can break any language barrier. However, this track acts like an even more lyrical, historical lesson full of myths and sagas; so it is definitely not wrong to listen closely here. Speaking of lyrical, if not even ‚philosophical‘ arrangements; how about a track called Hinauf Zum Gold’nen Tor then ? Indeed, here we have another strong title that could be almost labeled as ‚catchy‘. Again, the choir and the lead singer are at their best; the overall impression is both harshly and cheerful; just like a good Pagan band has to sound. I especially like the moments when a decent flute (although it seems to be a synthetic one)  is introduced, which fits perfectly to the general acoustics. Now, with Eichenhain it gets more emotional. And: traditional, with the flaws of the Pagan genre being held in the background. A calm and melodic guitar sound without too much drumming and the lack of any vocals will surely remind you of a fitting campfire-music here. Even more, hearing this one over and over, certain images related to movies might come up; thinking of a fitting soundtrack for the Spaghetti Western genre. One thing is for sure: XIV Dark Centuries do indeed sound very good in these ‚calm‘ moments also.

Brennen Soll Das Alte Leiden consists of a likewise composition as many other XIV Dark Centuries-songs, so do not expect this track to be the # 1 creative masterpiece of the album. However, there are some decent blast beats in the background, once more being carried by the extremely harsh voice of the lead singer. How about a walk then, which comes along in form of Eine Wanderung ? This piece begins rather ‚harmless‘ and soft, but then converts into another epic banger with a nice rhythm and very melodic guitars – at least until the first refrain. Too bad that this song remains rather ’soft‘, the sound is definitely missing some more ‚brutality‘ and harshness here. And I am not speaking about the vocals…

Runenraunen – Eine Wanderung II directly connects itself to the fore-running Part I, which doesn’t seem to have been a very wise decision. Die Runen raunen zwar mächtig – but the general impression remains rather monotone. Personally I am still missing the one or the other strong ‚Wotaaaaaaaaan‘ (remember ? Now THAT was epic) scream on this album… or, in other words: more appealing instrumentals with heavier guitars and a decent choral backup of the lyrics. Now, where have we already heard an almost similar title like Surtur Erwacht… ? Oh right, it has been Amon Amarth. This ‚German version‘ however works out nicely, too – finally catching up in speed and a little darker touch. And now even the (almost too) melodic guitars are serving their purpose again: carried by some nice high-pitched screams and aggressive growls they lead to a rather epic approach, finally Der Ausklang, or the outro; is another calm instrumental piece without any highlight – so it somehow refers to the rather unspectacular intro.

Conclusion: Well, Gizit Dar Faida is not the album that will ’save‘ or re-enlighten the World of the Pagan Metal genre.There are some highlights indeed, but also a handful of tracks that don’t seem to be more than simple gap-fillers. And, what is even more important or severe: none of tracks sounds like it hasn’t been there before. Not necessarily in the discography of XIV Dark Centuries, but certainly within the Pagan Metal genre in general. It is sad, but it is more and more lacking innovation, the glory and epicness of the ‚old days‘ and a general heaviness. Now, XIV Dark Centuries did not deliver a weak album, but none of the stronger one’s or ‚must-haves‘ of 2011 also. Personally I will rather go for their old ones again. In this spirit… Wotaaaaaaaaan !


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„Great Pagan material.“