Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bannerwar - To Honour Fatherland (2004)

Similar to Wolfnacht, Bannerwar is another Greek outfit which employs the imagery and ideology of WWII Germany into their lyrics and music. They're also another of these bands to lay waste to the cliche that NSBM must be horribly produced. To Honour Fatherland has a bright tone to it, elevated by the constant sheen of the guitar melodies, the symphonic regalia of the pianos and keyboards, and the bloodied rasp of its front man. The programming of the drums does seem rather obvious at first, but Bannerwar has so much going on that it quickly settles into the background of the imagination. Most of the tracks here are loaded, energetic anthems bearing a semblance to Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse or Dimmu Borgir's Enthroned Darkness Triumphant, though not strikingly so.

The writing skills are undoubtedly solid, with well placed, storming melodies that certainly feel as if a war were being joined. There are a few here that run on the bloated side, namely the title track and "Aryan Skies", 9 and 7:30 minutes respectively with little memorable, sticking content outside of the obvious speed and competence. However, most of them hover around the 4-6 minute safe zone and are more easily digested. The bass tone is appropriately thick to offset the streaming clamor of classically-inspired chord patterns, and while the vocals are average for the genre, and delivered with predictable venom, they at least sound lethal when the band hits their full stride. Aside from the arguable inclusion of the drum machine, Bannerwar does a hell of a lot right, and had this album originated a decade prior, it might have taken on a cult status, but by the 21st century, we've already been inundated with uncounted scores of records which use this same style to greater compositional effect.

Still, the band balances their music and philosophy rather well, not nearly so overtly offensive as others in their field; yet sincere about which side of the fence they stand on. I actually quite like the cover emblem and logo with its blue woodland backdrop, and it's evident that the Greeks were interested in assembling the total package. Unlike some other NSBM acts, they identify themselves almost wholly within the black metal style, rather than the hybrid of RAC and metal that you'd expect. Even their cover of Blue Eyed Devil's "Eternal Fight" is given a pretty grim spin. Ultimately, Bannerwar is not something to scoff at, though the processions of notes do not warrant much replay. To Honour Fatherland knows and fills its role, but doesn't really strive for anything beyond that, and as such, it's far from a mandatory listen. That said, if you're into the band's Aryan inclinations then you might rate this a few points higher due to its competence, which was not exactly commonplace.

Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]

No comments: