Rebellion - A Tragedy in Steel Part II: Shakespeare's King Lear - (8.5/10)
Published on February 15, 2018
Rebellion have long been one of the finest heavy/power metal bands to come out of Germany. They are known mostly for the trilogy of albums about the history of the Vikings but all their albums have some kind of historical slant with the exception of Born A Rebel. The last album saw them taking on the history of the Saxons and while it was very good, their newest album promises to be even better. Why? It is simple. Remember the band’s glorious debut, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, A Tragedy in Steel? Well 16 years later, they have finally unleashed a sequel upon the world! A Tragedy in Steel, Part II: Shakespeare’s King Lear is Rebellion’s eighth album overall and if it is anything like the debut, it may be their best in a while.
Like the first Tragedy in Steel album, Rebellion incorporates narration to help tell the story on songs like “Thankless Child.” This is how concept albums that tell a story should be done because it helps the listener keep track of the “plot.” How is the music though? That is always the big question with these kinds of albums. The answer is that the music is awesome. Great riffs have always been a hallmark of Rebellion’s style and this album is no different as it pumps out tons of awesome riffs like the main riff of “Stand Up for Bastards.” If that riff does not get your blood pumping, perhaps the speedy “Storm and Tempest” will do the trick. If neither does it for you, get a doctor to check your pulse because you might be dead. The band goes back and forth between mid-paced bangers and speed-driven riff monsters that are full of WIN on this album. This is something they have always done extremely well and it really suits their sound, especially for something as complex as Shakespearean tragedy.
“The Mad Shall Lead the Blind” contains the best drumming on the album, with cymbals, rim hits, and a great, steady march-like beat. It even opens with some sweet percussion. The drumming on the rest of the album is pretty damn good too with plenty of hard-hitting beats and some pretty sweet cymbals on many of the tracks on the album. This is Tommy’s first album with the band but he fits right in and does a great job behind the kit. He does a killer job keeping up the tempo on “Blood Against Blood” and even throws in a few good fills and great rim drumming. There are moments when the pace of the song, including the drumming feels like it should be faster, like the middle of “Stand Up for Bastards,” and that detracts from the listener’s enjoyment a little. “Storm and Tempest” is another one that feels like the drumming should be faster than it actually is. Most of the time, Tommy’s performance adds depth to the album because of tracks like “Demons of Madness,” which features great cymbals.
Michael’s vocals are excellent as always. He sounds a little strained in the low range on a few of the tracks but that is partly just his gruff style. His voice still has a ton of power and he tells the gripping story of King Lear with great conviction. Michael is different than most vocalists in this style as he sings primarily in a lower register but his voice is unique and instantly recognizable. He does not display as much range on this album as he has in the past, which makes him kind of one note. That said, his approach still works pretty well on this album. It would be hard to imagine anyone else fronting Rebellion because Michael fits their sound so well. He sounds like an old Viking with battle scars, which fits Shakespeare surprisingly well.
All in all, this album completely lives up to expectations and tells a compelling story about a monarch and his twisted family of royals. It never devolves into cheesiness, maintaining a high level of heavy metal awesomeness. This is every bit as good as the first Tragedy in Steel, if not better, and the metal world could really use more of this kind of thing. It is only fitting that it ends with an epic, eight and a half minute track simply titled “Farewell” since that is all that is left to say at the end of this story. Farewell for now Rebellion. See you next time.