Rebellion - A Tragedy in Steel Part II: Shakespeare’s King Lear

Rebellion A Tragedy in Steel Part II: Shakespeare’s King Lear
A Tragedy in Steel Part II: Shakespeare’s King Lear
Massacre Records
Whoever says metal and Shakespeare don’t mix would do well to check out Rebellion’s latest and eighth full-length (released via Massacre Records), “Tragedy in Steel Part II: Shakespeare’s King Lear”, as the durable Teutonic power metallers have managed to create a highly captivating and intelligent as well as fun, badass rendition of the legendary playwright’s tale of betrayal and conquest with a dozen rambunctiously driven and compellingly narrated, Old English style, tracks which, like a fine wine, sound better and better as the days (eventually, years) go by.
From the get-to, numerous mid-tempo, gruelling and grinding, at times surprisingly innovative guitar riffs and pervasive, outside-of-the-box drum beats/fills serve as the infallible backbone to front man Michael Seifert’s phlegm-y yet concise baritone vocals, which spin multiple coalescing yarns, starting with the initially folksy opener “A Fool’s Tale” and concluding with a very apropos piano laced cool-down in closer “Farewell”, which, far from inducing heavy eyelids, constitutes the album’s masterstroke as it allows the listener a firm grasp of its otherwise pile-driving rhythms and plentiful, grandiosely phrased as well as evocatively restrained, delta blues guitar solos, the likes of which imbue an uncanny but gripping vintage rock flair to a majority of the tracks, whether on the quirky and head-bopping, but intensely valorous “Storm and Tempest”, the placidly resigned and cleanly progressive “Demons of Madness” or downright jarring and whooping razzmatazz and catchy as Hell tour-de-force “The Mad Shall Lead the Blind”. Three minutes into this last, the all-out rollicking tempo gives way to a floating and wistful guitar progression highlighted by a bedevilling multi-character interplay rife with mocking, if not twisted, 16th century evoking spoken lines, be they from a cruel sounding lothario, a gnarled and wizened gnome or an ashamedly arousing, taunting tart, which has me constantly backtracking for said eye-brow raising guilty pleasure. Note: such esteemed sassy olde tyme vixens also make a welcome appearance on the triplet fused and lightly cymbal tapped but soon to be hard-driving and raw “Truth Shall Prevail”, yet another memorable track worthy of repeated (and wanton) perusal.
Ribald overtones aside, what essentially got my juices flowing (not the kind you’re thinking of) were the wickedly melodic lead harmonies – soon to be full-blown instances of outright guitar wizardry – permeating the first two tracks, namely the ear-worm bars majestically entering the fray at 03:49 of “A Fool’s Tale” and 02:47 of “Dowerless Daughter”; the latter sonic clincher just so happens to be preceded by an amazingly fluid and impacting, syncopated guitar lick which makes one feel they’re toasty-ly enveloped in a cozy cocoon – this is where I knew I had a winner on my hands and fully strapped in for the album’s richly unfolding development. In effect, “A Tragedy in Steel Part II” is a most rewarding compliment and sequel to its 2002 original instalment. Throughout, it avoids stagnation or bombast thanks to its stout ebb and flow as well as each band member’s diligent contribution, from Oliver Geibigm and Stephan Karut’s crunchy yet conservatively gained guitar riffs and solos to Tommy Telkemeier’s imposingly prominent drums (dig the maniacal rim job intro to “Dowerless Daughter”!). Although Tomi Göttlich’s bass playing is rather limited to backing lines without any overt elaboration, Rebellion’s overall sound can be described as vocally gruff and dominant as well as thick and robust riff and rhythm wise – once you hear the jovially raucous and side-winding main riff to “The Mad Shall Lead the Blind” or succumb to the stoic rancor of “Battle Song”, there’s no turning back – but magically potent and luxurious as far as leads go. Evidently, the Lower Saxony quintet stands in a class of its own thanks to its oh-so-novel lyrical theme(s).
Lastly, the track placement is terrific as all the pieces of this poignantly esoteric and tastefully theatrical heavy metal puzzle flow smoothly from one to the next while throwing a couple endearing curves along the way in the form of a “rebellious” and 70s rock-ish thumper in “Stand up for Bastards”, with its poised fifths (reverse power chords timelessly demonstrated by Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” or Rainbow’s “Man on the Silver Mountain”) and jangling, hat/knicker twisting drum rides, as well as the moog-ish and brooding, doom metal invoking “Black is the World”, capped as it is by sinisterly warbling, fatalistic chord breaks and lugubrious drum swats shadowed by Seifert’s despondently craggy caws. Even the shrilly evil pentatonic guitar solo brings to mind Victor Griffin and company (from the obvious doom metal pioneer I shall refrain from name dropping at this point!).
Admittedly, I was somewhat “leery” when I first came across the (literally!) well-versed Rebellion and its intriguing with a capital “I” “A Tragedy in Steel Part II: Shakespeare’s King Lear” – aside from philosophical oratory thespians, who wouldn’t be?! Nevertheless, I’m so thankful I overcame my initial misgivings and gave it a chance as it not only permitted me to unearth yet another great band, but also develop a penchant for the classic liturgy at hand. Take my word for it… this is heavy metal homework you shan’t neglect!