The more I explore the joyous genre of folk metal, the more I learn how some countries take it in very different directions. Case in point: the Germans, who mix it with entirely home grown genres such as the medieval folk of Corvus Corax, the medieval metal of In Extremo and the NDH of Rammstein and Oomph!, which often leads it into industrial territory too. Tanzwut grew out of Corvus Corax, initially being a sort of side project from members of that band, but they're a heavier band most of the time.
They're certainly a heavier band on the title track which opens up the album, as they probably should be, given that Tanzwut means "dance rage" and so this one is The Dance Rage Returns. It's varied, the quiet moments featuring what sounds like a harpsichord, but mostly it's an up tempo romp that can't fail to get your toes tapping, at the very least, with the back end driving it forward, bagpipes lighting the way and Teufel's vocals ringleading the whole thing. There are seven members in Tanzwut at the moment and five of them contribute pipes at points. Two only play pipes and shawm.
Feine Menschen does an even more overt job of shifting between quiet moments and emphatic ones. This one goes electronic, pleasant keyboards noodling behind Teufel's rough but clean voice, but then it launches into high gear, everyone joins back in and we're back to heavy again. I like how they shift in intensity, but that's not their only mode.
I don't speak German, but Bis zum Meer, which Google Translate tells me means To the Sea, feels like a timeless singalong classic. It doesn't play with intensity much, but it feels right and I'm sure this is one that will seriously invoke audience participation when gigs open back up. Pack doubles down on what this brand of folk metal does, courtesy of fellow Germans Saltatio Mortis, who have their own brand of medieval metal. It starts out like it's going to be a western film soundtrack, though the bagpipes soon put paid to that idea and our toes get hyperactive once more.
That's four songs out of four that change up the sound at least a little and the fifth is different again. It's Die Geister die wir riefen, or The Spirits We Called, which is unusual in many respects. It's not rock at all, let alone metal. It's a folk song that delves into gypsy punk and cabaret, strongly featuring an accordion. It's another lively toe tapper but it's a complete departure, even though Teufel's voice has all the grounding the song needs to be identifable as Tanzwut. That's a heck of a range.
And, with that said, I don't need to run through everything else on the album. There are crunchy NDH numbers and quieter folky pieces. There are songs entirely driven by bagpipes and others that play in a more keyboard-driven vein. There's a lot here and, if anything here piques your interest, you should check it out. You'll find yourself diving into a rabbit hole that also contains their eleven albums, going back to 1999, and a whole slew of other bands too.
What I will highlight is Virus, which is the album's closer a dozen tracks in, because Tanzwut surely left the best for last. In some ways, it's the album in microcosm, because it crushes at the outset but then gets sassy, with some winking talk singing from Teufel. It's choral and it's orchestral. It gets retro with sections I'm used to in steampunk, where the song sounds like it's being played through a Victrola. It's heavy and tame and quirky and pretty much everything else. It's a grand way to wrap things up.