FEUERSCHWANZ, the German folk-rock act from Erlangen, have been a great success in the folk community for over 15 years. Their rich discography now gets a ninth addition in “Das Elfte Gebot,” out on 26 June 2020 through Napalm Records. The deluxe version comes with an extra album “Die sieben Todsünden,” filled with a variety of different cover songs in the trademark FEUERSCHWANZ style.
The album start off with the energetic “Meister der Minne.” With heavy riffs and outstanding folk arrangements, the song launches to an up-tempo verse until the powerful catchy chorus takes over the song. From the first minute, it’s clear that the band has matured their sound even more and has even introduced heavier elements this time around. Overall, the album is really guitar-driven, making the album more folk metal than folk rock; this is especially clear in the thrash-infused “Totentanz,” which has furious riffs reminiscent of Bay Area thrash metal act TESTAMENT.
“Das Elfte Gebot” offers a lot of fun songs from a lyrical point of view, but also musically – often the songs have funny themes and are able to brighten these dark times. The snappy “Metfest” can easily conjure a smile on the listener’s face, as its a perfect song to party to. “Kampfzwerg” is a powerful song, with incredible gang vocals during the chorus. This song, which tells a story of dwarves, really fits with its themes and it also has probably the most epic guitar solo on the record. “Mission Eskalation” makes you want to dance to the peculiar folk melodies, convenient because the song is also about partying wildly.
Not all songs are party tracks or have this tongue-in-cheek value in the lyrics, as the band also shows a more serious side to their audience with the title track “Das Elfte Gebot,” a song about living life to its fullest. “Im Bauch des Wals” follows a similar style as the song discusses current environmental issues with lyrics about plastic in the oceans and seas. The track starts with an epic melodious intro that builds up a beautiful atmosphere and then has a more emotional and melancholic feeling to it. Once in a while, orchestral elements take over in the style of SABATON making the track more powerful. Gender themes are being brought up in “Schildmeid,” telling the story of Viking women fighting on the front lines; the diversity within the track is incredible, including the subtle sonic reference to Nordic folk music in the drumming patterns. The official album ends with “Unter dem Drachenbanner,” a fun song to end things on an energetic note.
However, those who have the deluxe edition also have an additional disk of cover songs. The selection of these songs show a wide variety of styles and genres, with pop songs as well as hip-hop and power metal. However, it doesn’t really matter what the genre was of the original track, FEUERSCHWANZ have made an impressive attempt in giving these songs their own identity, while at the same time maintaining the songs’ own DNA structures. “Ding” perhaps has gone through the most spectacular change, originally coming from a German reggae/hip-hop band; the band has managed to change it to a fun, energetic track with a lot of great and creative folk melodies included. “Limit” is originally an electronic song, but FEUERSCHWANZ managed to create a super heavy, powerful song out of it. The folk version of “Amen and Attack” feels like it was always meant to be a folk song – its captivating melodic guitar intro is executed on flute, which gives the track another dimension. The SABATON cover song of “Gott mitt Uns” follows the same pattern as “Amen and Attack,” keeping the identity of the band alive, but adding beautiful folky sections in the song, creating more depth.
Even though I love the original soundtrack of “The Hobbit,” I personally was never really a fan of the somewhat cheesy “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran; its intro is surely epic, but that’s about it, the rest of the song always felt like it was lacking in atmosphere. I mean… it feels a bit weird to have pop songs about fantasy themes. They seem more a metal band’s territory and surely, I’m quite sure that if the dwarves from The Lonely Mountain had a metal band they would definitely sound like FEUERSCHWANZ in their version of “I See Fire.” The band does what, in my opinion, Ed Sheeran couldn’t deliver: a perfect, captivating, dramatic, and epic atmosphere to a song that deserved to have more emotion and depth in the first place. It also proves that this band is not just a party band – whenever they write serious songs, the emotions are real, heavy, and perfectly written in the songs, whether the songs are original or covers.
With “Das Elfte Gebot,” FEUERSCHWANZ have delivered an album containing a lot of diversity; from party tracks to melancholic, thematically relevant songs. “Das Elfte Gebot” is an album that’s easy-to-the-ear, with catchy choruses, great vocal performances, captivating folk melodies, and a well-balanced sound. In short, an album that will conquer the hearts of many folk metal fans alike.
Das elfte Gebot – Tracklist
1. Meister der Minne
3. Das elfte Gebot
5. Im Bauch des Wals
6. Mission Eskalation
8. Malleus Maleficarum
9. Lords Of Powermet
11. Unter dem Drachenbanner
Die sieben Todsünden (bonus covers album) – Tracklist
1. Ding (Seed)
2. Hier kommt Alex (Die Toten Hosen)
3. Amen & Attack (Powerwolf)
4. I See Fire (Ed Sheeran)
5. Gott mit uns (Sabaton)
6. Limit (Deichkind)
7. Engel (Rammstein)
Hauptmann Feuerschwanz – vocals, guitars
Johanna von der Vögelweide – fiddle, hurdy gurdy
Sir Lanzeflott – drums
Jarne Hodinsson – bass
Prinz Hodenherz – pipes, guitars, vocals
Hans der Aufrechte – guitars