Re-recordings can be a perilous proposition in the music business. You can understand the many reasons an act would opt to do so. It could be to introduce a new member to their fan base. It may offer a chance to reinvigorate songs that were strained by a tight budget. Perhaps it’s a stop gap solution whilst a band slaves away on new material. Whatever the rationale, artists knowingly walk a tight rope when they choose this route, as in the eyes of many, they run the risk of tarnishing the legacy of the source material. This brings us Legenden, the new EP from German pagan metal quintent Asenblut. The release culls four cuts from 2009’s debut album Aufbruch, as well as a cover of Manowar’s “God or Man”.
So, what of the songs a decade on? Structurally, they remain pretty much the same, with any changes purely for aesthetic purposes. There’s little here that will be a revelation to fans of the viking/melodeath genre, with Asenblut walking the path of Swedish stalwarts Amon Amarth. The original material veers between a moderately paced march and a swifter crusade, with the stellar drumming of Balrogh often allowed to dictate the tempo. Riff masters Yuri and Claus Cleinkrieg do not sit idly by, with a melting pot of riffs that ranges from searing, tremolo picked speedsters and blistering thrashers to more moderately paced crushers, all the while interweaving harmonies into the mix. The sound is a lot fuller, with a thicker, meatier guitar tone to give the riffs more of a punch. Whilst the originals weren’t exactly lacking, the added weight of the new production does help give the songs a bit more power and clarity. Tetzel’s vocal approach also differs, opting for a deeper, more menacing bellow instead of the slightly raspier style he used in 2009. Both approaches do no disservice to the songs, but I feel this alteration is a wise one, as it compliments the added bulk the guitar tone has.
The Manowar cover drew the most intrigue from me, and I’m happy to say that it’s a mighty fine effort, retaining the spirit of the original whilst also having a flavour of its own. Like Asenblut’s reimagined material here, it’s a largely faithful rendition that amps up the heaviness; the hyperspeed blasting half way through the only deviation from Manowar’s blueprint. It fits in right at home with the other four tracks, which is what successful cover versions do. It’s probably the strongest track too, although that is no slur against Asenblut’s songwriting chops. It’s more the fact that they’ve done a great rendition of a great song.
Whether or not the songs here needed to be revisited and given a better mix is debatable, but I feel that the songs are better off for it. Throw in the Manowar cover and you’ve got a nice little EP that’d serve as a good entry point for new fans and offer something for the hardcore who are waiting for the next full length.
Highlights: “God or Man”, “Von Des Verraters Untergang”
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