ADORNED BROOD delivers their usual mixed bag of goodies with their fifth full-length release “Heldentat.” The production is quite pristine and clear with crisp snaps on the drums and distinguishable bass lines. The guitars possess a healthy crunch with little hum or noise, and fine acoustic tones appear during lighter passages. ADORNED BROOD brings vocals to the front with this release, and the overall effect is successful. The unadulterated vocals make shrills and guttural attempts seem quite smooth, and in terms of production, the crew should applaud themselves for an outstanding effort.
As with any ADORNED BROOD release “Heldentat” covers a broad range musically. Many tracks showcase traditional folk elements while those that push too far border on New Age. Most songs hinge on the combination of Thorsten’s choppy guitar riffs and flutist Ingeborg Anna’s melodic frills. At times the flute distracts more than it adds, but an astute fan of ADORNED BROOD will refer to this as one of the band’s trademarks. Thorsten makes good use of his Ibanez RG550 on this release with tremolo effects, tons of natural gain, and notes that hang eternally through great pick-ups.
A variety of vocal stylings appear on this release, but the duality of male and female folk performances dominate each track. Neither of the vocalists falter, but no arias appear either. As with many folk acts, the vocals are less stellar than human, and when singing with conviction both sound forced. The straight-forward passages work quite well and the accentuating growls and shrills found throughout the release provide a nice touch when highlighting darker moments. A few well-executed harmonies appear over the shrills in a few tracks, adding another layer to ADORNED BROOD’s innovative approach.
“Tanze Mit Dem Tod” and “Der Albtraum” contain tight rhythms and fantastic tones. Drummer Tim delves into dance beats occasionally, but ADORNED BROOD focuses on songwriting rather than showboating. The ballad “Farewell” illustrates Ingeborg’s ability to harmonize and expand the band’s dynamic horizons. “7 Tage Lang,” on the other hand, exemplifies the typical problems found on any ADORNED BROOD release in that its folk elements are too strong and often sound of a Holy Grail spoof. ADORNED BROOD has never feared experimentation, and tracks like “Gezeichnet” will appeal to those seeking something eclectic and unusual.
“Heldentat” delivers a few high points but fails to impress. ADORNED BROOD may never release a perfect product, but the highlights and production continue to improve. Their efforts continue to surprise and engage, but don’t look for “Heldentat” in anyone’s top ten. Seekers of the band’s definitive style should begin with “Erdenkraft” as it captures a more complete package.
(Online April 7, 2007)