Wolfchant took a surprising turn for the worse on their third album, 2010's Determined Damnation, which saw the German pagan metal heretics running aground of inspiration, despite largely maintaining the musical status quo that had served them so well in the past. There's really no better explanation: the group's riffs and melodies simply weren't as memorable this time out, and the tenuous balance between light and dark songwriting elements (drawn from Viking, folk, power, thrash, black, and melodic death metal styles -- whew!) responsible for making preceding triumphs both reassuringly aggressive and incredibly infectious came off surprisingly flat on new offerings like "World in Ice," "Kein Engel Hört Dich Flehen," and "Schwerter der Erde." Not helping matters were vocalist Lokhi's increasingly one-dimensional rasps and subpar singing efforts -- particularly when wed to often confusing lyrics (some in English, some in German) dealing in everything from the familiarly cornball yet endearing pagan endeavors (e.g. "Until the End," "Fate of the Fighting Man"), to more serious subjects like religious discrimination (the title cut) or resistance ("Under the Wolves' Banner"), to fanciful impersonation during "A Raven's Flight," or even indulging in what can only be described as pagan party metal on the dumbfounding "Never Too Drunk." Still, there were a few rare exceptions to the rule that actually tapped into that genre-juggling balance and creativity spoken of earlier, including the excellent "In War," with its unexpected symphonic bridge section, or the remorselessly grim "Auf Blut Gebaut," with its rousing black metal blastbeats. Otherwise, Determined Damnation sounded like a quest too many for Wolfchant, and only time will tell whether the group will recover their magic for a fourth album down the road.