Medieval culture has been going through a revival these last few years throughout Europe, but if you are to name the one place where this historical period is mostly celebrated then Germany certainly deserves a top price.

Whether you choose to visit the Worms Spectaculum in late May or stroll through the cobbled streets of Aschaffenburg during Christmas time, what you will almost certainly come across is numerous people dressed in medieval costumes that either indulge in buying handmade crafts, drinking mead or participate in battle re-enactments.

It is of no great surprise that the Rock scene of this great country has also been infiltrated by such elements, leading to the creation of numerous bands, one of which is Mannheim-based outfit Saltatio Mortis.

Having no clue what so ever as of who these guys are and what their contribution to the scene has been, I begun searching on the Internet for information and what I soon realise is that not only have these guys been around for eleven years now, but that, more importantly, “Sturm Aufs Paradies” is their eighth studio album.

Having already been quite intrigued by their choice of album cover, their own ‘take’ on Delacroix’s epic painting “Liberty Leading The People”, I begun investing in the thirteen compositions on offer and, only a couple of spins later, I came up with some interesting conclusions – mainly that the medieval elements in the band’s music are limited to the inclusion of simple bagpipe melodies while the main emphasis is placed on simple support riffs and catchy sing-along melodies. Does that mean that “Sturm Aufs Paradies” is a bad album?

Thought the linguistic barrier (all compositions are sung in German) and the repetitive nature of the majority of the compositions on offer would have, in most other cases, resulted in me losing interest, this cannot be said about “Sturm Aufs Paradies”. Why? Simply because these simple riffs and melodies can be quite fun to listen to when on the right mood.

Granted, the band will not win an award for technical agility as a result of performances such as those in the opener “Habgier Und Tod”, the slightly gothy “Hochzeitstanz” or the bagpipe infused “Ode An Die Feindschaft”, but the beautiful flute and acoustic guitar tunes of “Eulenspiegel” will compensate those of you who mainly look for melody in a composition.

The simple and quite repetitive themes of “Sundenfall” and “Nachtigall Und Rose” are counter balanced by the beautiful piano/acoustic guitar tunes of “Gott Wurfelt Nicht” and the guitar-driven theme of “Nach Jahr Und Tag” and such a fragile balance is kept through the remaining compositions of the album. The much fitting female vocals and moody piano tunes in the five minute “Orpheus” are far superior to the simplistic riffs and melodies of “Spiel Mit Dem Feuer”, “Fiat Lux” and “Der Letzte Spielmann”, leaving the quite impressive tunes of “Wieder Unterwegs” to provide an ending to this quite interesting effort.

It is a real shame that I don’t speak German, as I believe that these thirteen compositions, which mainly rely on sing-along choruses, would have been more appealing to me as I would be able to engage myself on a whole different level. As things stand, “Sturm Aufs Paradies” comes across as an honest and fairly enjoyable effort – one that might be slightly overwhelming if you are not in the right mood for it.

Some of you may complain that the simple use of a bagpipe is not enough to justify the use of the term Medieval Rock in describing the band’s music, and that might indeed be a fair argument, however this is one of the few such cases where the word ‘Rock’ takes a more leading role in the overall proceedings and I, for one, have no objection whatsoever to such a decision. An interesting effort indeed.

John Stefanis

Rating: *** (3.0/5.0)

In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 24 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Featured Albums w/c 25 May (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 FM Synchronized (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE ROCKET DOLLS The Art Of Disconnect (indie)
14:00-16:00 BEN KUNDER Searching For The Stranger (indie)

Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)

THE MERCY KILLS Alone (Golden Robot Records)
DEAD REYNOLDS By Your Side (indie)
THE JAILBIRDS Watery Grave (Golden Robot Records)
ALI MASS & MICKY MOODY These Times (Last Man Music)
MASSIVE WAGONS Bangin In Your Stereo (Earache)
UDO We Are One (AFM Records)

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