It's easy to see why EQUILIBRIUM might think of this album as recreation. Their previously dense and layered Folky Viking pummelling hit home with a crowd of ravening Metalheads who couldn't decide whether they liked DIMMU BORGIR or KORPIKLAANI better - all of a sudden here was something combining the two sounds and doing it better than either! It hit home and the crusade of funky synthesized folk Metal began in earnest with the ridiculously diverse and honestly quite fun “Sagas”.
But the reason things are so easy for EQUILIBRIUM now, and why they are enjoying a beer and a wench instead of sitting in a cold shed fixing guitars strings or trying to come up with nice folk melodies, is that all they are expected to do from now on is repeat themselves, but in a slightly simpler and more accessible manner. That's what people are asking for anyway.
Far from recreation, “Rekreatur” becomes therefore something of a tough listen for someone with all but the least demanding of sonic desires. Did you want to hear the melodies from “Turis Fratyr” and “Sagas” again, but just repeated more? You got it. Want the Metal elements tuned down so far you'll be listening to what sounds like a sea shanty being played while in the distance a Metal concert is going on? We have that. Repetition and distillation and worthlessness, yes sir, right here.
But this is more than just watered down EQUILIBRIUM. This is EQUILIBRIUM repeating their old material in a much "happier" and lighthearted style. Don't believe me? “In Heiligen Hallen” begins with EXACTLY the same lead-in and punching tattoos as “Turis Fratyr”'s “Wingthors Hammer” did. The difference between these songs is that the melodies behind new vocalist Robert Dahn's mediocre gurgle just sound mismatched rather than a pairing of epic and savage as before. Even other bands aren't safe - “Der Ewige Sieg” is terrifyingly alike to any number of FINNTROLL songs, most notably “Trollhammaren”, just with that tinny production and thin riffing EQUILIBRIUM have rather than FINNTROLL's meaty assault.
And the energy is so gone. Where before songs went through several riffs, pace changes and what have you, “Verbrannte Erde” follows the two damp opening songs with almost six minutes of the same damn melodies over and over again at just below mid-paced. “Die Affeninsel”, with its Monkey Island-homaging keys and neoclassical guitar twirlings, is fun on a superficial level, until you realize it's actually not the sequel to “Unbesiegt” and is in fact the soundtrack to an upcoming Crash Bandicoot game. And “Fahrtwind” is actually German for airstream, don't be so goddamn childish! Heh, heh, fahrtwind.
There are still some nice bits here and there. “Aus Ferner Zeit” is not all bad, it's just too long and has some ridiculously bad female vocals (as does the end of “Wenn Erdreich Bricht”, Jesus, is this supposed to be tongue-in-cheek or what?). Actually, it's mostly bad. It has the same cheesy keyboard lines as every other song on here, it's just there are some slightly more preferable bits too. The fast bits. Ahem. Let me see, what else. “Der Wassermann” has a pace change so....that's something. Oh well, everyone liked that big ol' closing epic on the end of “Sagas” right? Well, EQUILIBRIUM have done another one! So it's like... well instead of listening to six minutes of them imitating “Unbesiegt” its thirteen minutes of self-repetition. That isn't such a good idea. Seriously this would be boring as hell even if you hadn't heard “Mana”, it's a terrible idea. I don't get why they made it so similiar! Are you not expecting people who own “Sagas” to buy this? On that note, if you are a person who owns “Sagas”, don't buy this, and also don't buy it under any other personal, economic or societal conditions.
So, getting drunk and recording this patchwork of old hits might be recreation for EQUILIBRIUM, but it sure as hell wasn't recreation for me listening to it. Where they used to be a rather ambitious bunch of Germans with eyes on the thrones of MOONSORROW and WINDIR in terms of scale and folky might, now they're more like ELUVEITIE - tiresome as all holy hell.
And what in creation is that little winged bastard on the front?! Oh that's an artistic representation of the band. It's a depiction of their current failure to quite be one thing or another, like this fucked up Chimera isn't quite a lion, or a gargoyle, or Billy Connolly.
(Online January 14, 2012)