ALBUM REVIEW: Suidakra – Lupine Essence

The early nineties was an exciting experimental and developmental time for the genre of Folk Metal. The German outfit SuidAkrA took on this evolving style and meshed it up with Black Metal on their debut album, Lupine Essence that was released in 1997. They were able to uniquely harmonize the two genres and create a memorable and meaningful record that is still considered with reverence in the Black/Folk/Celtic Metal scenes. Now the band is re-releasing their early work with original member Arkadius Antonik remastering each track himself. With new artwork, bonus tracks, and its first release on vinyl, these multi-genre metal veterans are getting a chance to properly present their initial material.   

It’s been 23 years since Lupine Essence was released and now Suidakra fans get a chance to consume the innovative spirit of the band with a remastering oomph. The opening track, ‘Banshee’ introduces dueling guitars at a valiant gallop and instantly administers a contagious ruckus. The listener will quickly hear how the quality has been cleared up by the perkiness and definition heard in the guitar tones and vocals. Frontman Arkadius Antonik’s screeches seethe and dominate more in the overall sound while still complementing the intricate work done on the guitars. Even compared to the 2019 version of this song that they made for their album Echoes of Yore (MDD Records), there is more presence in this rendition. Most of the bonus tracks are reinvented Lupine Essence songs that have been done over the years and there is a clear distinction between the previous recordings and these remastered ones. 

This can really be felt on tracks like ‘Havoc’ and ‘Heresy’. The reworked songs expose the real grim in their Black Metal sound while the previous re-recordings tried to polish away the grittiness. The past efforts attempted to sound more epic and though more was weight given, they are far less gnarly versions. They fit more with the band’s current Melodic Death Metal sound than their Black Metal roots. The most recent revamps have fewer bells and whistles yet give more light to the distinctive sound that was already there on the originals. The clarity given on the track ‘Sheltering Dreams’ made its eeriness and old-world feel stand out all the more. The band prides itself on using traditional instruments in their works like the tin whistle and mandolin which give a rustic impression. Similar to the In Flames song, ‘Everlost, Pt. 2’ which is off their own debut album Lunar Strain (Wrong Again Records) which came out in 1994. Both harnesses an unadulterated soprano voice and acoustic guitar in a wistful way. Sui sets a Medieval mood and warmth using their acoustic devices throughout their varied works. Then they have their 2020 version of this song which takes on a whole new attitude with piano and strong, clear vocals from Tina Stabel revealing the band’s true versatility and creativity. They end the record with their 2020 version of ‘…And A Minstrel Left The Mourning Valley’ keeping to the whimsy and heart of Folk and Celtic inclinations. SuidAkrA has breathed new life into their debut darling and gave it the tone and presence it originally deserved. 

Order Suidakra – Lupine Essence – at www.mdd-shop.de

7 / 10

RAGIN ROSIE