So here we are again – German quasi-folk metallists Equilibrium are back with their sixth album, Renegades…

The band, now down to just guitarist Berthammer of the original members in 2019, have seen a few changes since the release of their fabulous 2016 effort Armageddon (which made it to the lofty position of number thirteen in Sentinel Daily’s Top 100 album rundown of that year); And whilst these changes see the band moving away slightly from many of the things that made Armageddon so listenable, there’s still plenty to recommend it’s successor.

For starters, there is nothing here to rival the majesty of Armageddon’s best tracks, Heimat and Koyaaniskatsi; perversely, though the band sing in English in places on the new album, the music isn’t quite as accessible as it has been of yore. Uplifting, Eurovision-style key changes are mostly missing from the new songs and the embracement of rap, though doubtlessly seen as progress by the band, in fact just makes the song it features on, Path of Destiny, seem rather mundane by comparison with what has gone before.

But for all that, this is a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things. And remember, it’s grand which this band does best. The album’s two best tracks, Himmel Und Feur and Moonlight, are easily fit to join the pantheon of the band’s best – especially the former. Elsewhere the collaboration with German vocalist Julie Elven on Hype Train also works well, taking the edge off the testosterone-fuelled antics going off over the course of the rest of the album.

Will the move to a split in lyrics between German and English pay dividends commercially for the band? It’s hard to tell. As my colleague Ferry Templeton said in his review of Armageddon, metal is a universal language in it’s own right, and the strength in the band’s melodies in their own right should be enough to overcome any language barriers. And, in my not so humble opinion, there is enough of the good stuff here to see the band moving up the ladder again with Renegades.

Renegades is out on August 23rd.