By releasing Sagas, Equilibrium set the bar all too high. Since then, the record stirred some waters in Nuclear Blast’s lenghtly catalogue and to this day hangs like the sword of Damocles over its creators – an unavoidable fact that made founder (and currently last original member) René Berthiaume take a sharp turn in his sixth opus.
Renegades sounds like it’s recorded by a completely different band with its own ideology and musical concept. The charismatic folklore of days bygone are scaled down to a bare minimum, which will definitely push away a huge part of the band’s fanbase craving for epic compositions with an exotic flick. That said, René’s decision is as understandable as it is necessary – the guitar guru simply preferred to turn the page and start anew than fall victim to stagnation. While Renegades carries a crisp, modern sound and production, it also gives way to some of the heavier technical milestones in Equilibrium‘s discography. Instead of rehashing previously explored Nordic themes, the lyrics (mostly written in English) deal with actual problems of a society headed towards ecological disaster and unavoidable apocalypse.
The electronics of Skadi Rosehurst add to Robse’s growls and the dystopian mood of the album. Scar’s (on base) clean vocals turn “Tornado” and “Kawaakari – The Periphery of the Mind” into future live constants. The duet “Path of Destiny” with The Butcher Sisters surprises with rapcore sections while Julie Elven sings in “Hype Train” – something that shouldn’t be odd to anyone familiar with René’s gaming hobbies. “Final Tear” gets the most memorable place in the tracklist, not so much because of its blast beats and black metal riffs but due to its ferocity in contrast with Greta Thunberg’s prophetic speech about climate change in front of the UN council.
When stripped down to the core, there’s a clear message for an abrupt change in the destructive human course – a position that, reflected by the music, carries a big risk to be left misunderstood or get called a “sellout band” by the masses. Contrary to the album’s title, Equilibrium returns to form and all that’s truly meaningful, and Renegades is a damn good reason to actually start listening between the lines.