Arminius: Furor Teutonicus (known herein as simply Arminius) is the sixth full-length album by German heavy/power metal act Rebellion. It was released in 2012. Rebellion have returned with this album with I guess odds stacked against them as on December 30th 2010 60% of the band’s line-up decided to leave the band to pursue other ventures, including co-founder and main music writer Uwe Lulis, leaving just bassist Tomi Göttlich and vocalist Michael Seifert to carry on the band. This could have easily been the end for Rebellion, but the two pressed on, and throughout 2011 new band members joined up and finally, three years since their last album, the mouthful that was Arise: From Ginnungagap to Ragnarok - History of the Vikings Volume III (2009), Rebellion is back, and they’re moving on from the Viking theme that drove their last three albums to the Romans.
But with their main music writer departed from the band it is fair to wonder if Arminius will still sound like Rebellion. Thankfully it does, although my initial thoughts were that the band has taken their music in a more traditional heavy metal direction rather than the power metal that they are most associated with. Kicking off the album is a rather slow-paced song, Rest in Peace, which is a rather different song for Rebellion. In some ways it’s very folk influenced, or at least the main melody is. Vae Victis, later in the album, also explores this influence to a much lesser extent. More notably though, the song doesn’t have a trace of power metal about it, although ultimately this is a good thing for the album, as the slower pace gives it a sort of building up feel to it, so by the time Ala Germanica kicks in with a more familiar Rebellion sound, it packs a serious punch, and it’s at this moment where there is no room to doubt it any longer, Rebellion is back and believe it or, even Uwe Lulis’ loss doesn’t seem to have really phased them.
My thoughts about the album’s genre aren’t entirely misplaced though. Arminius features a much more balanced heavy/power metal sound compared to the prior Arise album or even compared to Miklagard - The History of the Vikings Volume II (2007). This is nothing new to the band though. They have always been a heavy power metal band and indeed some of the older releases have seen much more a balance between the two styles, especially Shakespeare's MacBeth - A Tragedy in Steel (2002) and Sagas of Iceland - The History of the Vikings Volume I (2005). Compared to the increasing more power metal dominate direction they’d been taking though, Arminius is more like a return to their roots album, although it does still feature elements of the more aggressive sound featured on Arise, particularly the vocals by Michael Seifert.
Michael Seifert I must say excels on this album. He’s long been a personal favourite of mine among power metal vocalists for his much more aggressive style than most use for the genre, while remaining very much a ‘clean’ vocalist even from Arise onwards where some of his lines approached growling. On Arminius though he delivers arguably his best performance yet, because it generally has everything he’s capable of. The roughest, near growling vocals, the powerful yet still clean vocals, and, during the surprising closing ballad of the album, Requiem, purely melodic vocals which show a whole different depth to the guy that you don’t normally hear.
If anything Arminius is a step down for the band compared to the last couple of albums, but since those last couple of albums were both masterpieces the fact that Arminius isn’t quite as good as them isn’t really an issue for me and honestly all things considered it is actually much better than expected since I was worried that the loss of Uwe Lulis would affect them. Clearly though, it hasn’t, as Arminius not only continues the band’s run of high quality albums, but as tracks like the aforementioned Rest in Peace and Requiem show, it breaks the band some new ground, while also delivering storming heavy/power anthems such as Ala Germanica, Breeding Hate, Prince of the Cheruscer and Ghost of Freedom of the like that their fans expect to hear.
Arminius is actually a lot more varied compared to Arise, so those that like albums to chop and change between ideas may actually prefer what Arminius has to offer, while those who liked the more single-minded focus on power metal and aggressiveness of Arise may not like it so much. Personally I think Rebellion are a band that excels at both approaches, and Arminius is yet another testament to the band’s abilities. It’s also ultimately a good thing that they don’t make their albums sound exactly the same every time. An exceptional grade rating is deserved.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))