Album Review – Der Rote Milan / Moritat (2019)

Enjoy these German tales from the past connected to the present through themes of freedom, fear and fighting oneself in the face of death, all embraced by first-class Black Metal.

I, II, III, IV and V. More than just Roman numerals, those represent the five pillars of a German Black Metal unity known as Der Rote Milan, who are beyond ready to keep haunting  our souls with their second full-length opus, entitled Moritat, the follow-up to and a logical progression from their 2016 debut album Aus der Asche. Not only that, their new album can also be considered a concept release, as Moritat tells local stories based on real events during a thirty-year war that took place during the 17th century, with its central character being the historical figure Schinderhannes, an outlaw considered by some to be the “German Robin Hood”.  These stories, which take place in the southwestern Germany’s Hunsrück region, are connected to the present through themes of freedom, fear and fighting oneself in the face of death.

Forged in 2015 in the fires of Trier, a southwestern German city in the Moselle wine region lying in a valley between low vine-covered hills of red sandstone in the west of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, near the border with Luxembourg, Der Rote Milan (which would translate to English as “the red kite”) continue to play Melodic Black Metal in Moritat, finding their identity in a combination of vicious blast beats, catchy melodies, and calm, thoughtful moments. The lyrics are performed in German to underscore the local character of the stories, giving the whole experience of listening to their music an extra touch of aggressiveness, obscurity and pure evil. Comprised of six very detailed and bold songs, Moritat surpasses the 40-minute barrier in great fashion, positioning this cryptic entity as one of the most promising new names of the underground German scene.

Gentle notes gradually morph into a brutal but very melodic devastation entitled Die Habsucht (or “the greed” in English), where IV begins fulminating everything and everyone with his demonic beats while lead singer III fires some absolutely enraged roars, with the music flowing majestically until a somber and atmospheric break takes over, powerfully getting back to an infernal Black Metal ending. Then it’s time for I and II to pulverize our ears with their scorching riffs in Drohende Schatten (“threatening shadows”), a lesson in Melodic Black Metal by this Teutonic horde, sounding even more demented and violent than the opening track, whereas Gnosis der Vergänglichkeit (“gnosis of transience”) is an ode to all things dark and mournful with a melancholic Atmospheric Black Metal-inspired intro where III’s otherworldly growls and vociferations sound utterly anguished and grim, while V keeps the ambience menacing with his low-tuned bass.

And that intricate and lugubrious vibe keeps haunting our souls in Der letzte Galgen (“the last gallows”), where III growls demonically while his bandmates extract the most vicious and piercing sounds possible from their instruments, with IV once again stealing the spotlight with his precision and technique, getting almost tribal with his beats at times (which in the end enhances the song’s taste and punch even more). There’s no time to breathe with more of their vibrant fusion of classic Black Metal with distinct melodic and atmospheric styles in Der Findling (“the boulder”), reaching deep inside our hearts and blackening them beautifully, with I, II and V being in a fantastic and extremely evil sync with their strings, before the title-track Moritat (“ballad”) brings to our metallic ears 12 minutes of visceral sounds and noises, with the amount of aggression and obscurity flowing from each instrument being truly outstanding. Not only that, IV keeps demolishing his drums in a very precise and melodic way, while the guitars sound and feel extremely sharp, therefore cutting our skins mercilessly, with the music remaining epic until the song’s triumphant and dark finale.

In case these simple, straightforward words are not enough to show you how potent and somber the music by those German metallers sounds and feels, you can take a more detailed listen at Moritat in its entirety on YouTube, and of course after getting stunned by their disturbing sonic waves you must check what Der Rote Milan are up to on Facebook, and purchase Moritat from their own BandCamp page, from the Unholy Conspiracy Deathwork’s BandCamp page or Big Cartel, from iTunes or from Amazon. In a nutshell, the gates to the underworld of German Black Metal are open, and Der Rote Milan are right there waiting to claim your soul to the sound of their brand new, pulverizing concept album of first-class Melodic Black Metal.

Best moments of the album: Drohende Schatten and Moritat.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Unholy Conspiracy Deathwork

Track listing
1. Die Habsucht 6:10
2. Drohende Schatten 3:26
3. Gnosis der Vergänglichkeit 7:42
4. Der letzte Galgen 7:21
5. Der Findling 4:16
6. Moritat 12:01

Band members
III – vocals
I – guitars
II – guitars
V – bass
IV – drums

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