Review by Felix on April 24, 2023.
The "Nibelungenlied", translated as "The Song of the Nibelungs", is an epic poem in Middle High German. This legendary tale deals with pure love, tragic heroes, murder, courtly culture, betrayal, and, maybe most important, loyalty. The proverbial "Nibelungentreue" has become a synonym for the highest form of loyalty. Modern minds confuse "Nibelungentreue" with another fine German word, the so-called "Kadavergehorsam", the slavish obedience till death. Furthermore, they say that Hitler's Wehrmacht followed exactly this way of thinking and therefore their conclusion is that any kind of German mentality sucks. With that said, forgive me for being a sucker.
Mystic Circle use the poem for their lyrical concept and the artwork shows the dragonslayer Siegfried, who is later killed by the sinister yet highly fascinating Hagen von Tronje. He, and not Siegfried, is the key player of the poem, a loyal servant and a brutal killer as well, who does absolutely not take care about his own fate. The seventh track bears his name, but unfortunately, it does not belong to the highlights of the album, which presents keyboard-soaked black metal. Yes, the keyboards play a very prominent role on "Drachenblut" and it needs no explanation that this fact is always dubious in terms of black metal. People who only accept the "De Mysteriis..." approach will hate this work and I understand their way of thinking. But good music has many forms and maybe "Drachenblut" is not a black metal album, but nevertheless a good work.
Rapid drumming and growling vocals lend the album a fairly murderous touch, but it was no good idea to start each and every regular track with its own (soft) intro. From my point of view, this way of proceeding hurts the flow of the album without adding a medieval or folkloric touch. Aggravating this situation, the mostly pretty boring introductions make clear that the individual tunes are rather too long than too short. Anyway, "Blood from the Xanten's King" marks an exception in view of its well performed piano intro. But this does not mean that only its beginning fascinates. As soon as the piano falls silent, the band marches into war with aggressive rhythms and unbridled energy. "King of the Nibelungenhord" is another song that mixes opulent keyboard sections with straight and fast parts in a strong manner. Its combination of depth and velocity sounds really exciting. Mystic Circle had the talent to write thrilling compositions, but sometimes they were not able to estimate their possibilities realistically. As a result, "Drachenblut" houses also songs that should have been designed in accordance with the old "less is more" dogma.
In order to do justice to the traditional myth, Mystic Circle intended to release an album with meticulously constructed songs, but they were not able to swallow the entire meal that they had ordered. Some tunes lack of coherence, good parts alternate with slightly ill-defined sections and in rare cases, the keyboards suck - just listen to their erratic tones in "The Dragonslayer". Anyhow, it was no question that I gave the album a serious chance while listening to each and every song several times. This, dear friends, is my interpretation of "Nibelungentreue".
Rating: 6.8 out of 10458