SALTATIO MORTIS is a German Folk Rock/Metal band that was founded 2000. Its name means Dance of Death in English. So far the band has 8 full albums and 3 live releases out. I heard about SALTATIO MORTIS for the first time back in 2009 at the time of their “Wer Sind sæt” album, the predecessor to the new album “Sturm aufs Paradies”. “Sturm Aufs Paradies” was released on the 2nd September 2011, also via Napalm Records. And this was my first proper encounter with the band’s music. Sure, I had checked some samples a few years ago, but back then they didn’t urge me to keep on checking. Now, I sort of had to. And I can’t say I minded.
I’ve listened to “Sturm Aufs Paradies” many times. It seems SALTATIO MORTIS is one of the bands that has the key to write catchy tunes and this new release is full of ’em. The smooth production (thanks to producer Thomas Heimann-Trosien) also adds to that, of course. Thirteen tracks, the lyrics covering various subjects, from Greek mythology in “Orpheus” over the Oscar Wilde’s “Die Rose und die Nachtigall” to the dangers of atomic power in “Fiat Lux”, for example. The lyrics were written by drummer Lasterbalk, while vocalist Alea did his best to transfer those words with the help of the music, be that a heavy rocker or a soft ballad. Everything’s sung in German and while the German language is not exactly as romantic as e.g. French, the band does succeed in keeping it diverse and certainly not as strict, tight or firm as – bad example or not – RAMMSTEIN. Then again, this is also an entirely different band.
The storm begins with “Habgier Und Tod” where the bagpipes start off with a Folky intro. Folk is key here and the bagpipes play thus a big role in this and other songs. The verses are clean, while the guitars add power, albeit not that heavy. The song’s got a simple structure and catchy melodies. It also sounds qutie radio-friendly. Of roucse the song rocks, esp. in the verses, while the vocals emphasize the emotional chorus. In short, a job very well done. “Hochzeitstanz” rocks a bit more, there’s more focus on the guitars. The first signs of Folk only come out in the chorus, which contrasts nicely with the rocking, straight-forward verses. Again the vocal abilities stand out. Halfway there’s a nice headbanging moment, so to speak, while the bagpipes carry on. Afterwards, there’s an acoustic break before the reprise of the chorus. This song, too, shows the qualities of SALTATIO MORTIS.
This brings us to what I call a true highlight: “Ode An Die Feindschaft”. Not that the other songs are less good, not at all. But this one I find more magical, so to speak. It begins with a calm Folk intro, played by the bagpipes, acoustic guitar and cittern, if I’m correct. After which it’s time to ROCK! The verses are comparable to the music that the Swiss Hard Rock band SHAKRA plays. The bagpipes return for the melodic aspect of the chorus. But it doesn’t get dominant. Well over halfway there’s a nice moment of suspense with the toms ad guitars before the song runs its normal course again. Time for another light and enjoyable track then: “Eulenspiegel”. Here you get another acoustic intro (flute and guitar) playing the main melody, which is then copied by the bagpipes. When the whole band comes into action, the result is a clean Folk Rock song with acoustic verses. The whole is radio-friendly (again), while the chorus was made to be catchy. You can sing along, if you want. In other words, this should do great live.
“Sündenfall” is a direct Rocker and for the better. However, the bagpipes aren’t that far away. The clean singing has got a slimey touch, I must say (also for lack of a better word). Full melodic/folk power is unleashed in the chorus. SALTATIO MORTIS continues to deliver. “Nachtigall Und Rose” is another true highlight. Despite the presence of Folk instrumentation, it’s the Rock that dominates with firm pace and overall good feeling. The melodies also contribute to making this song a hit. Calm, clean verses contrast nicely with the more powerful chorus. And the song does ROCK! The middle section is another indication of that, reminiscent of e.g. SHAKRA, HEAVEN’S BASEMENT, … Top job! The first and only crack comes with “Gott Würfelt Nicht” where the piano makes its debut in the acoustic intro. The chorus is, on the other hand, semi-acoustic: a power ballad with piano touches. As a resting point, it’s nice. But overall, I found this song a little less attractive.
“Nach Jahr Und Tag” brings in some computer-sounding touches, next to the expected Rock and rougher vocals (which shows that Alea does not limit himself to just clean singing). The bagpipes are present once more, particularly in the chorus, which is firm, but the melodic touch is big enough thanks to that instrument and the singing. In “Orpheus” the piano is the starting instrument again, in a gentle way. The dark Rock that follows contrasts with the happier chorus, although there too the guitars don’t really change their tone. The melodic Folk Rock SALTATIO MORTIS composed for the song is well done… again! Near the end there’s a female vocalist, but it’s a riddle to me who this is. Anyway, “Orpheus”… another job well done. “Spiel Mit Dem Feuer” is a straight-forward Folk Rock, almost Pop Rock, song with the bagpipes on lead. Again the guys made the song catchy as can be and reserved full power for the chorus. And was that a cajon I heard further down the track?
True highlight 3 now, “Fiat Lux”, which begins in an acoustic way with the guitar and bagpipes before the Rock is let loose. The acoustic verses have the hurdy gurdy (see also e.g. ELUVEITIE). The tempo increases for the übercatchy chorus, where the music very much rocks! I love it! More bagpipe music is provided in “Der Letzte Spielmann” with semi-acoustic verses and a humpa-rhythmed chorus. KORPIKLAANI, anyone? But it’s good, no doubt about that. “Wieder
Unterwegs” puts an end to the storm with – indeed – bagpipes and the acoustic guitar. And thrown in some more Folk instrumentation and percussion to make this Poppy Folk Rock song complete. All in all, a solid ending track for a very entertaining album.
Like I said before, “Sturm Aufs Paradies” is my first proper encounter with the music of SALTATIO MORTIS and even if I’ve never thought of checking out the band (or their music, for that matter) more thoroughly, I have to admit that I was very positively surprised. Even if the lyrics are in German, and the music is quite radio-friendly (depending on the song), the album overall rocks where needed, even if the Folk input is big. But the stuff is nicely balanced. Key element in all tracks: catchy choruses. Kudos too to the band for keeping the themes varied. Long story short: very good production, catchy songs, entertainment of high quality. Thus: heavily recommended!
- Habgier Und Tod
- Ode An Die Feindschaft
- Nachtigall Und Rose
- Gott Würfelt Nicht
- Nach Jahr Und Tag
- Spiel Mit Dem Feuer
- Fiat Lux
- Der Letzte Spielmann
- Wieder Unterwegs
Alea der Bescheidene – vocals, bagpipes, shawn, guitar
El Silbador – bagpipes, shawn
Falk Irmenfried von Hasen-Mümmelstein – bagpipes, shawn, hurdy gurdy, guitar
Samoel – guitar, cittern, bouzouki
Lasterbalk der Lästerliche – drums, davul, percussion
Luzi das L. – bagpipes, shawn
Jean Mechant, der Tambour – drums, percussion, guitar, vocals (acoustic line-up)
Bruder Frank – bass, chapman stick (Rock line-up)