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SPECIAL FEATURE: German Black Metal Round-Up

When it comes to black metal and its related offshoots, you’re more likely to think of countries like Norway and Sweden.  But if you’ve been paying attention over the past decade or so, you’ve probably started to notice that more and more quality material has been originating from Germany.  Though they don’t get quite as much notoriety as some of the other countries out there, Germany has a considerable amount of talent and the TO staff has put up a round-up of recent black metal and black metal related releases from the country.

Ancst- Furnace

Ancst – Furnace (Vendetta Records)

Ancst are a relatively new addition to the German black metal landscape, forming in 2011 and releasing a string of short releases and splits starting in 2012. Their discography swerves between ambient/drone releases, and black metal albums with a fearsome edge of hardcore and crust punk like last year’s electrifying debut full-length, ‘Moloch’. Now Ancst is back with ‘Furnace’, another EP of melodic and heartfelt black metal. Acting as a further focusing of the band’s razor-sharp sound, Furnace kicks off with a mellow intro before launching into a setlist’s worth of riff-filled rippers. Switching often between blasting and lightning-fast d-beats means the headbang factor is high, and the band throws in plenty of battering grooves. The programmed drumming is integrated well, and adds an urgent push to the faster sections. Axe-slingers Mirko and Robert’s guitar tone has a menacing buzz in the low registers, particularly when the riffing takes on the hefty anger of hardcore. The songwriting is absolutely on point as well, with each song introducing a handful of memorable riffs and switching through dynamic twists and rhythmic turns with practiced ease, or launching into plaintive, brazenly melodic guitar leads. Vitriolic and boiling with rage and disdain, twin vocalists Tom and Torsten absolutely spit their politically-charged lyrics, with raspy yells that carve through the mix without dominating it. This band is committed to a staunchly DIY ethos, which makes the immaculate production and polished presentation all the more impressive. –Wyeth Holman


ColdWorld- Autumn

ColdWorld – Autumn (Cold Dimensions/Grau Records)

By the name alone, you might expect the musical offerings of a band called ColdWorld to hark back to the early days of rip-roaring, bullet-belt-and-blizzard black metal. But ‘Autumn’ is elegant and atmospheric to its core, sporting production with bombastic drumming, subtle synths, and wrenching walls of guitars. But there’s a lot more than sadness brimming beneath the surface of ‘Autumn’ with songs like Void, which is composed completely of clean singing, a swaying 3/4 beat, and angelic female vocals. That kind of thing can’t always be pulled off well, but ‘Autumn’ does it as effortlessly as leaves falling from a dying tree. –Eric Seal

Desaster- The Oath of an Iron Ritual

Desaster – The Oath of an Iron Ritual (Metal Blade Records)

When it comes to neck-breaking high speed blackened thrash assault, Desaster are one of the leaders of the pack. In their nearly two-decade long career, they have shown absolutely no sign of slowing down as they continue to churn out some unbelievably good music. Their last full-length ‘The Oath of an Iron Ritual’ was no different. Not being one to experiment, the band sticks to their guns, playing the most primitive form of black/thrash metal. With riffs, powerful enough to detach your head from the rest of your body, this record is one speedy ride from start to finish. This does not mean it’s all-out assault from start to end, praise must be given to the overall structure of the album as tracks like End of Tyranny which are plummeting with their ferocity are well counter-balanced by the likes of Haunting Siren which brings in more of the mid-tempo dynamics to the record. The German bastard child of Anthrax and Venom is clearly showing no sign of slowing down, so make sure you don’t miss it! –Vidur Paliwal

Entartung- Baptised Into the Faith of Lust

Entartung – Baptised into the Faith of Lust (World Terror Committee)

Entartung caught my attention with their second full length ‘Pecata Mortalia’ back in 2014 and this German duo had crafted some incredibly engaging melodic black metal record. Now they’re back as a trio with their third full length ‘Baptised into the Fatih of Lust’. An exquisite blend of raging guitar work and epic, melodic underpinnings, the band continues to expand their sound on this record. With a thick, engulfing atmosphere, the dissonant riffing here has a sense of epicness, with no deterioration in the grimness of it all. Some of the riffs are downright catchy while at the same time, playing into the occult lyricism and imagery of the band. The tracks tend to immerse the listener in their twisting flow and hypnotic melodies, so much so that the length of the tracks are seldom felt. This album overall is a satisfying balance of abrasiveness and melody. –Shrivatsan R

Farsot- Fail·Lure

Farsot- Fail·Lure (Lupus Lounge)

Close to six years have passed since Farsot’s last full length ‘Insects’, but that time has clearly been put to good use as their newest effort ‘Fail·Lure’ blends the best elements of their abrasive and melodic sides. Spread across six lengthy tracks, Farsot’s latest skews a little more towards the harsher peaks of their debut but still ventures off into melodic territory that’s dripping in melancholy and hopelessness. Compared to their previous releases, the melodic and experimental elements are even better integrated with the more traditional black metal elements, making this a dynamic listen from beginning to end. The vocals also play a large role in making ‘Fail·Lure’ impactful, as the shrieks on songs like With Obsidian Hands are downright spine chilling. With passages that will lull you into deep thought and abrasive climaxes that pummel away at your psyche shortly after, this is an album that proves to be thoroughly engaging. –Chris Dahlberg

Fyrnask – Fórn

Fyrnask – Fórn (Ván Records)

‘Fórn’ is an album you are strongly advised to listen to in its entirety and without any distractions. You can cook your stew later.  The atmosphere sucks you in right from the start. The intro Forbænir lures you in and takes you to some obscure, dark, vaulted, reverberating hall and enshrouds you in droning ambient sounds, swelling and waning. Then you’ll witness, or even partake in, some ancient dark ritual in ten songs altogether. You are subjected to exhausting and unsettling changes in moods and emotions. The angry, ferocious black metal outbreaks of propelling blast beats, violent riffs and variable and thrilling vocals always return to the dark moody ambience. The swelling and waning of the intro grows into an ebb and flow of the whole album. The seamless transitions of the tracks add to the feeling of wholeness. The final track Havets Kjele is full of quiet sorrow and melancholy and a perfect escort out of the hall of the ritual.  ‘Fórn’ is nothing short of being brilliant. The intensity of its atmosphere created by an elaborate and detailed composition and a great sense of dramatic flow make the album a cohesive, organic and powerful piece of music. –Ulla Roschat

Goath- Luciferian Goath Ritual

Goath- Luciferian Goath Ritual (Ván Records)

Goath’s debut full length ‘Luciferian Goath Ritual’ is downright vicious. For a band that has only been around for about two years, these guys have delivered a tightly constructed black metal attack that sometimes skews into the black/death spectrum. There’s a good deal of early 90s influence that can be picked out of their songs, and with the exception of some ominous interludes between songs the instrumentals consistently hammer away at listeners. Rather than simply blasting away for its forty one minute run time, ‘Luciferian Goath Ritual’ strikes a perfect balance between mid-tempo riffs that let the low end dominate and the faster assaults. The vocals are also downright hellish, reaching levels of shrieks and screams that sound downright inhuman. All of this is capped off by production values that let the abrasive edges break through your speakers without sacrificing the details of each song in the process. With their debut this trio leaves behind scorched earth in their wake, and I expect even better things still to come. ­–Chris Dahlberg

Heretoir- The Circle

Heretoir – The Circle (Northern Silence Productions)

Heretoir takes several pages from Alcest’s post-black book — somber acoustic guitars layered on a foundation of driving double bass and topped with varied vocals and string synths. ‘The Circle’ doesn’t venture too deep into dark territory — Heretoir’s brand of black is several shades lighter than even Alcest’s, in my opinion — but this isn’t a knock against it. Instead, the blackened bits blast apart the more open clean parts whenever they need an aggressive attack, making ‘The Circle’ a well-rounded (sorry) listen. The constantly shifting moods of these graceful, multi-dimensional songs don’t often give you a consistent theme to grasp onto, but the frequent moments of heart-aching melody shouldn’t be missed. –Eric Seal

Horn- Turm am Hang

Horn – Turm am Hang (Iron Bonehead Productions/Northern Silence Productions)

One man bands are a dime a dozen, especially in the style of black metal. But Nerrath’s brainchild Horn is a cut above the rest. This act has been steadily releasing full lengths since as early as 2005 and with each release, the sound and the song writing capabilities have only gone from strength to strength. Nerrath tends to focus on a certain theme and he usually molds his style of folk infused black metal to fit that said theme. For his 7th full length release, the highlight is on German folklore and nature. The black metal here is not something one would call kvlt or grim. Rather, the morose atmosphere is melded seamlessly with pagan and folk arrangements to create a unified folk / black metal identity that is uniquely German sounding. With generous use of cleans, this release continues this band’s evolution and the production values here are on par with some of the bigger black metal bands. Horn is an act that could (and should, in my opinion) be an inspiration for more one man black metal acts to come. –Shrivatsan R

Nargaroth- Era of Threnody

Nargaroth – Era of Threnody (Inter Arma Productions)

Another huge step forward for a band that has oft been maligned in the past for merely posing and posturing rather then delivering the goods. Expect lots of lengthy, moody marches through the darkness. I picture soldiers across generations sitting in wet ditches trying to keep warm in a nighttime downpour. ‘Era of Threnody’ very much carries on the sound and emotions of the divisive ‘Jahreszeiten’, but takes things to an even higher conceptual level. Ash isn’t afraid to let the black metal take a back seat when it fits the moment. Classical guitar shredding, clean singing, strings and synth additions are all perfection. Grief, misery, and the last grippings of hope all laid bare. But those looking for more traditional black metal anthems can find solace in Love is a Dog From Hell and TXFO. –FlightofIcarus

Sun Worship- Pale Dawn

Sun Worship- Pale Dawn (Golden Antenna Records)

Sun Worship’s sophomore full length ‘Pale Dawn’ may not seem like a drastic departure from its predecessor ‘Elder Giants’, but it’s clear that the German black metal band has pushed their particular take on the genre to the next level.  The instrumentals once again offer sprawling blasting that barely gives the listener time to pause and catch their breath, but there are natural peaks that keep things from becoming repetitive or too drawn out.  It’s the type of black metal that’s just as hypnotic and calming as it is abrasive and in your face, and that’s a balance that can be hard to get right.  Each of the four songs feels like the band is taking the listener on a journey, and while it’s likely to take a few times through to make out the nuances the effort is definitely worth it.  The vocals on ‘Pale Dawn’ skew towards high shrieks with clean vocals making a surprise appearance on the final piece.  This is a natural step forward for Sun Worship. –Chris Dahlberg

Ultha- Converging Sins

Ultha – Converging Sins (Vendetta Records)

Well, this is something of a special album. Mixing older and newer black metal influences, (alongside a dash of crushing doom), ‘Converging Sins’ is over 60 minutes of music that’s destined to make a strong impression with anyone exposed to its virulent strain of darkness. The atmospheric textures and melancholic fire that are barely contained within this monstrous album are so delectable that they will make the listener almost salivate at even the thought of experiencing its esoteric charms. Not content with just crafting hair-raising atmosphere though, there are also a plethora of jaw-dropping riffs on this release too. Ultha really have pulled out all of the stops on their second album. What more can I say about this? If you’re a fan of black metal then this is pretty much as essential as it gets in my book. –Nigel Holloway

Unru- Als Tier ist der Mensch nichts

Unru – Als Tier ist der Mensch Nichts (Monotonstudio Records/Supreme Chaos Records)

Nightmarish worlds and harsh, bleak soundscapes are provided by Unru in grim abundance on ‘Als Tier ist der Mensch Nichts’. Forbidding, atypical and thoroughly challenging; this is not an album to be taken lightly. Amidst the general acerbic hatred we get glimpses of half-strangled melodies and emotive atmospherics, along with doom-workouts and noise assaults. Alongside the deranged screams that pass themselves off as vocals, this is an album that’s as unrelentingly harrowing as it is full of blackened darkness. Chaotic, discordant, dissonant and destructive. –Nigel Holloway



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