Wyrd Bid Ful Araed - The History Of The Saxons
Release Date: September 25, 2015
One of the things that makes metal music so great is the depth of the lyrical content. Not only is it fantastic music, but odds are pretty good that in the course of listening to the genre you’ll learn something too. The history of heavy metal is rife with songs and albums that reference all sorts of things from classic literature (Iron Maiden’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”), to history (Iced Earth’s “Hold At All Costs”). Some of my favorite songs tell a story, and oftentimes these stories are, at least partially, based on historical occurrences. Case in point: German power metal band Rebellion and their latest release entitled Wyrd Bid Ful Araed – The History of the Saxons. These guys, along with fellow history buffs Sabaton are known as being ‘metal’s history teachers’, frequently incorporating actual historical events into their songs. This, the band’s 8th studio album is no exception which focuses on the Saxons who were a confederation of Germanic tribes centered in what today is the North Sea coast of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark and who settled in large parts of Great Britain in the early Middle Ages. Think Vikings, but German.
The album focuses on the conflict between the Saxons and the Franks in the eighth century AD. During the rule of Charlemagne, the Franks were engaged in a campaign to conquer the Saxon lands and convert them from their paganism to Christianity. Led by a man by the name of Widukind, who has since evolved into something of a legendary character, the Saxons fought the Franks in the Saxon Wars which lasted for 30 years.
One of the recurring themes throughout this album is the disdain that the Saxons felt for the Christian religion, which was forced upon them, as evidenced by “God of Mercy” which describes the pagan people being burnt at the stake and “Slave Religion” which includes the following inflammatory lyrics:
“How can you help me
Nailed to the cross hung high
Free men never kneel and your weakness I defy
I'll grind your crucifix to dust
And I shall feed it to my swine
A slave religion you do preach
And your god shall not be mine”
One of the most interesting and emotionally charged tracks found on this album is entitled “Blood Court” which is a description of the Massacre of Verden, where 4,500 rebelling Saxons were betrayed and slaughtered by the Franks.
“The Fall of Irminsul” illustrates that eventually the Saxons were defeated and their way of life was all but wiped away and the album concludes with the title track lamenting their fate:
“Let's embrace our enemies
Frankish troops are passing us by
They burnt our past and heritage
You will greet them you will die
Let's deny our Gods and rites
May the past be black and burnt
For there is a future for us all
When the tides have turned”
Both thematically and musically interesting this album is solid throughout, with the moderately regrettable bit of voice acting present in “God of Mercy” which is admittedly painful to listen to, but is mercifully not revisited anywhere else in the album. With a sound which brings to mind Iced Earth combined with Amon Amarth Wyrd Bid Ful Araed - The History Of The Saxons is both a supremely enjoyable work of metal music and an intriguing and educational lesson in European history. You can bang your head and learn something at the same time. What more could you ask?
Reviewed by: Farron 1340