Another year comes to a close and that means lists. I never really get excited when the prospect comes around because a list is never as complete as you’d want it to be. In a way, it’s a moments recollection of all the good music that came by in the past year. Still, it’s important to look back and share with the world what it might have missed otherwise.
I can mention a load of bands I would gladly have included here. For example, I didn’t really get around to listen properly to Enslaved and Converge’s new records and I had to chose to omit the likes of Power Trip, Akercocke, and Pillorian. Oh, and Dool came to me in a big way. Well, you can’t have it all, but here is the list as it is:
I would also like to express thanks to the labels that have kindly supplied me with promo materials and support for realizing my goals. In particular thanks to Transcending Obscurity and Qabar Extreme Music PR. Also, thanks to Echoes & Dust for lending weight to my 195 bands project, by publishing these interviews.
May 2018 be a great year in music again. Live long and prosper.
Label: Seasons of Mist Band: Der Weg Einer Freiheit Label: Seasons of Mist
Goodbye, Cruel World with Der Weg Einer Freiheit
Der Weg Einer Freiheit offers the world a new taste of their dominating black metal skills with ‘Finisterre’. Only two years after ‘Stellar’ the group from Würzburg is back with an absolute gem. The solid core of the band is still Nikita Kamprad, but with some member changes, it seems that the group is gently shifting direction.
Though the sound seems to evolve in the expected trajectory, the album art is different on this record. For the first time, we see some more traditional black metal symbols adorning the cover of ‘Finisterre’. In one interview, Kamprad proclaimed that this record is their goodbye to the world as we know it. A line in the sand, a point of saying that we have to start over instead of continuing along this line.
I’ve written about Der Weg Einer Freiheit before on this site. I have to admit that I find both listening to and writing about this band daunting. Not because I think there is anything obstructive, I just think that they’re that good. There’s something so immense to the sound of these Germans. Listen to opener ‘Aufbruch’ with is monumental drum work and eerie, out of space guitars. Launching into a ferocious machine gun drum roll at the end the song finishes in a majestic show of force.
As said, ‘Stellar’ was much more spiritual, so ‘Finisterre’ brings us back to the ground. The sound of the album is much more earthy, solid and strong. A mixture between Endstille and Wolves in the Throne room would be a fitting way to describe this band, but it lacks the nuances to fully embrace them. It is telling on a track like ‘Ein letzter Tanz’, where the mournful melody merges with the sheer inferno of a scouring verdict, of our times as the nadir of civilization. Never afraid to implement lessons from modern black metal, a calm, soothing break occurs as well after which the abyss fully opens seven minutes into the song.
As if that was not severe enough, the two part ‘Skepsis’ follows with a climactic explosion. The sound sweeps you along in all its dramatic splendor, only to be repeated one more time on the finalizing title track. There’s hints to the more melodic, blackgaze or post-black metal sound here and there, which is perfectly fine. The music needs to convey grief. The sound truly holds a sense of finiteness. Slowly the cavernous riffing fades away into nothingness.
There have been numerous sounds from the underground worthy of capture like Toska, Protean, Der Weg Einer Freiheit and Krallice. This one packs a punch!
Toska –Toska Self Released
The band Toska is inspired by poetry of Tadeusz Micinski, a polish poet, gnostic and playwright who was an early expressionist or even surrealist. That’s about all there is known about the black metal band, which surprisingly is not from Poland or anywhere around, but from Iceland. This is the debut of the band, which only came out very recently this year (2015). Let’s check it out.
There’s a cold in the sound of the band, like you can feel in the air when frost is approaching. It becomes clear, while the tracks pass by, that there’s a certain amount of electronics involved in the production of this bit of music, which gives it a particular industrial-like cold feeling. The drums therefor lack the organic, furious feel that you’d expect. They feel too tight, to automatic. Some weird samples of keys are played through the music at a very low volume. This is rather peculiar and a bit spooky. Regardles of all that, the music is intense, full and like a blizzard storm in aural form. If you like you black metal cold and technical, this is the record for you.
Protean – The BurningCenturies Beverina Productions
Protean is a Latvian band with (former) members of various bands from the Baltic state, such as Eschatos, Urskumug, Frailty, Grondh and many others. Guest contributions were made by no other than the guys from Skyforger, making this a bit of an all-star record for extreme metal LV. Protean is a musical project that takes a journey through the history of warfare, mythology and legends. From the Punic Wars to the Hungarian Black Legions clash with the Ottoman turks, the longboats of the north and ancient Latvian myths. This is very promising material.
What we get is a clean production and sound that is big and mean. Protean embodies the sound of battle, history and a passion for metal in one furious ball of force. From the chanting on ‘Bringer of Fear’ to its thunderous main song, it resembles the more bold and heavy in the blackened genre, like Behemoth (which I find it resembles a lot). The focus is on atmosphere and grandeur, without much regard of genre boundaries, which is something I love in Latvian metal. The clean singing on ‘Swordwraith’ for example, gives a power metal like vibe combined with machine gun drums. It makes it sound big and honest. I particularly like the long track ‘The Longships Are Burning’, which is a bit of a nod to good old Unleashed and their beer guzzling favorite. A long track full of ambiance of Opeth-y guitar play and brutal bursts like a reign of fire. It shows a feeling for the dramatic as well as great musicianship. This whole album is a demonstration of strenght, a tour de force if you will, of a group of musicians that is highly talented. I feel like I’m just the jackass that wants to tell you that… Please listen to this band.
Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Stellar Season of Mist
This German black metal band was one of those that I missed out on on Roadburn. I thought, judging by the name, that this was some sort of post-apocalyptic folk ensemble. Yeah, you know the kind. Nothing of the kind however, but brutal, icy and melodic black metal (yes, all of that). The band from Würzburg is inspired by philosophy, death and life in their music and has 3 records under their belt this far. Yes I know that ‘Stellar’ has been out for almost 9 months, but have you heard this record? How could I not include it in this section of my website.
The sound of this band is like a warm bath with ice storms. The music provides the bath in the sense that its full and soothing with some major elements creating that immersion. Thematically and through the vocals and hard hooks there’s the storm, stirring unease in the general pool of sound. There’s blistering fury in the sound, but also the anticipation in the calm parts of ‘Repulsion’. Then there’s the catharsis and bliss united in ‘Einkehr’, a chastizing pilgrimage into destruction, total annihilation of the self. Closer is one beautiful and harrowing soundscape, under the title ‘Letzte Sonne’.
Krallice – Hyperion Independent
I feel like I’ve just finished with the previous full length titled Ygg-Huur, which I discussed in #19 of Sounds of the Underground, and then this band of rascalls from New York suddenly drops another one. Hyperion was recorded back in 2013, but only now is released on bandcamp. An interesting mention on bandcamp was the comparison to Sonic Youth, which is hard to distiniguish, but definitely present in the experimental sound of the group. It’s their way of saying Happy New Year I suppose.
The cover shows what appears to be a mountain range or maybe water? It speaks to the imagination, like the music of Hyperion. Blistering, radical twists open up the grandeur of the title track, with roaring drums and intense blasts. The band is like an uncoming storm, taking the most surprising twists and turns in their sound and obliterating any opposition. I can not understand how someone would not classify this as black metal’s next evolutionairy fase. The inspiration for the almost cacophonic, primordial ceremony that is performed on ‘The Guilt of Time’ makes you think of Lovecraftian sources, with copper beaten, clanging and grinding distortion. Krallice proves that they’re here to stay.