Sometimes it is nice to take a break from the seriousness and gravity of 98% of metal by delving into something fun, campy, and light. In this specific case, I am talking about “Memento Mori,” the latest album by German folk metal band FEUERSCHWANZ, which was released on December 31st, 2021, via Napalm Records. The bouncy melodies that saturate this album offer many uplifting vibes, which is just what we need at the start of this new year.
With only about 40 minutes of runtime and eleven tracks to enjoy, “Memento Mori” is not long enough to feel boring or repetitive nor is it short enough to pass as an afterthought after listening to it. For what it delivers, it sits well in the Goldilocks zone of delight and entertainment but without sacrificing the metal element. The deluxe edition of the album comes with two bonus discs – disc 2 being a collection of covers done in true FEUERSCHWANZ fashion (I think most everybody is familiar with their video for “Warriors of the World United” by MANOWAR), while disc 3 offers the instrumental versions of the eleven tracks. On top of everything, as someone who doesn’t speak German, it is interesting to discover how melodious the language can be (not counting RAMMSTEIN songs).
Every track is catchy and uplifting in its own way, and the fact that they could come up with so many melodies and arrangements speaks volumes to their creative prowess. “Das Herz eines Drachen” is the exception to the rule as it is the ballad of the album and it is more mellow and emotional but still with a strong folky backbone coming from the violin. Songs like “Memento Mori,” “Feuer und Schwert,” and “Ultima Nocte” sway more into power metal territory, with “Ultima Nocte” having some serious POWERWOLF vibes in the chorus, all the while “Memento Mori” is a metal anthem through and through, and quite a great introduction to the album. The guitar solo in “Feuer und Schwert” is top-notch, injecting melody and energy into the song. Here, the folk aspect takes a back seat as Hans Der Aufrechte’s guitars are powerful and melodic, and the vocal lines are easy to sing along to. One of the heaviest cuts on the album is “Rausch der Barbarei” – a collaboration with HÄMATOM – where harsh vocals mix with potent riffs and robust drums, creating a somewhat darker ambiance.
“Krampus” and “Hannibal” are the songs that stand out the best because they are dynamic, rhythmic, and extra groovy. “Krampus” is inspired by central and eastern European folklore and tells the story of the evil horned figure that is the “bad guy” to Saint Nicolas’ “good guy” as it punishes misbehaving children. The anthemic melodies in the chorus of these two songs make listening to them a real treat as you can always join in the fun by chanting either “Krampus” or “Hannibal.” The likes of “Untot in Drachenboot,” “Rohirrim,” and “Am Galgen” have a more preset folk ambiance as Johanna Von Der Vogelweide’s violin takes more of a central stage infusing lively melodies to the guitars and powerful drums. “Rohirrim” is especially epic not just because it channels a Lord of the Rings-type fantasy vibe but because it sounds like a battle hymn with a lot of oomph coming from the violin, flutes, pipes, and guitars. With its catchy melodies, violin accents, and bass-driven undertones, “Skaldenmet” brings the album to a fitting finale.
To reiterate my initial point, “Memento Mori” is a fun and easy-to-listen-to album even for those of us that don’t understand German. It’s deceitfully complex for something that sounds so simple and accessible as folk elements combine seamlessly with a power metal backbone and even some orchestral arrangements in what is becoming FEUERSCHWANZ’s signature sound. So if by chance you are searching for something to put you in a good mood while also delivering hefty riffs, look no further than this album, it’s a guaranteed earworm!
Written by Andrea Crow
1. Memento Mori
2. Untot im Drachenboot
3. Ultima Nocte
4. Rausch der Barbarei
6. Feuer & Schwert
7. Das Herz eines Drachen
9. Am Galgen
- Hauptmann Feuerschwanz – vocals / guitars
- Johanna Von Der Vogelweide – violin, hurdy-gurdy
- Hans Der Aufrechte – guitars
- Jarne Hodinsson – bass
- Rollo – drums