To be really honest, I had already written off SIEBENBÜRGEN. After they had released four albums within five years, there’ve been four years of absolute silence. Usually this does not mean anything good, but that thankfully is not the case with the Swedes around singer/guitarist Marcus Ehlin. In the year 2005 the unholy quintet is back with “Darker Designs & Images“ and puts an end to a whole line of line-up changes, which resulted in a new female singer (Erika Roos), a new bassist (Niklas Sandin) and the return of Ehlin to the guitar.
In the course of the first four albums they honed their very own style of classical Heavy Metal and Death/Black Metal, at times with female vocals and consequently continues this on the fifth long player, where for the first time they are graced with a good cover artwork, finally! And after I had been a bit disappointed by “Plagued Be Thy Angel“, the Swedes also musically show old class!
After the dark intro “Darker Designs“ “Rebellion“ continues right where they had left off, with fat double-bass, strong melodies and Ehlin’s rough, but intelligible voice. The riffing still is strongly rooted in traditional Metal, but who now expects a sound standing close to CHILDREN OF BODOM etc., will not find it, as SIEBENBÜRGEN are quite a bit darker and a lot less “over the top” in terms of technical frenzy. Additionally Ehlin’s voice is a good bit deeper than Laiho’s, so overall I can say that SIEBENBÜRGEN pretty much have their own style.
Heaviness and speed are varied very well also within the songs, which gives the compositions some great dynamics and keeps the tension up, which in combination with the dark atmosphere creates a very attractive symbiosis. And on “A Crimson Coronation“ another element comes out that had been spicing up the SIEBENBÜRGEN sound ever since the beginning, the female vocals, now done by Erika Roos, which adds another dimension, strong song! Just like the following “Skuggor“, where Erika and Ehlin are going for a duet and they also sing in Swedish again, which is just a great fit for the Scandinavians’ sound.
On “Blood And Magic“ they put the pedal to the metal a bit more and once more prove my thesis that double-bass generate SO much more power than blastbeats, both thumbs up for SIEBENBÜRGEN! And with “Forged In Flames” they have another smasher in line, great!
“Darker Designs & Images“ shows the band back to strength and leaving the not fully convincing “Plagued Be Thy Angel“ behind, they have the old bite and have honed their own style even further, the dynamic riffing, the tight rhythm section and the vocal contrast are packaged in gripping songs, which catapult SIEBENBÜRGEN back into their high position, very strong comeback! (Online August 21, 2005)