Album Review – Waldgeflüster / Mondscheinsonaten (2019)

The perfect soundtrack for those crystalline winter, woodland walks, courtesy of a Bavarian heathen horde armed with their Folk-drenched Black Metal.

There’s nowhere like Germany in winter time. The forests, the castles, the markets and the “gluhwein” (a type of mulled wine from German-speaking countries made from red wine with cinnamon and other herbs and spices), all offer solace for the wandering winter soul, as well as the music as you’ll be able to enjoy in Mondscheinsonaten, the brand new opus by Munich, Bavaria-based Black/Folk Metal horde Waldgeflüster. Both the name of the band (German for “forest whisperings”) and the album name (which translates as “moonlight sonatas”) already give you a very good idea of how powerful their new Folk-drenched Black Metal eyries are, melting the coldest of hearts, but it’s after hitting playing and immersing yourself in their music that you’ll finally understand what Bavarian heathen music is all about.

Formed in 2005 as a one-man project by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Winterherz (whose full name is Jan van Berlekom), Waldgeflüster evolved into a full-bodied band in 2014 when guitarists Dominik Frank and Markus Frey, bassist Arvagr and drummer Thomas Birkmaier joined Winterherz in his quest for metal music for good, after having played with him either as studio or live musicians in previous albums and concerts. Building strongly on the band’s heathen foundations, melding clean and harsh vocals seamlessly and integrating folk instrumentation sparsely enough to augment (but never over-embellish the exceptional blackened metal grounding), Mondscheinsonaten is perfectly pitched to fuel those crystalline winter, woodland walks with its immensely infectious melodies and haunting refrains, with the entire band sounding extremely crisp, mature and cohesive throughout the album’s over 60 minutes of stylish and enfolding music.

Embraced by the sound of the howling wind, the melancholic, acoustic Einleitung (“introduction”) warms up our hearts for the dense and thrilling Der Steppenwolf (“the steppenwolf”), with Winterherz growling deeply while Domink and Markus extract sheer darkness from their guitars. In other words, this is a journey through the realms of Atmospheric Black Metal and Blackened Folk Metal where the music keeps growing in intensity as time goes by, while Thomas, armed with his classic blast beats, makes sure not a single space is left empty. Then get ready for over twelve minutes of a flawless fusion of folk and extreme music entitled Gripfelstürme (“summit storm”), where the band’s guitar duo once again hypnotizes us with their scorching riffs and with Winterherz being on fire with both his demonic gnarls and his obscure clean vocals, also showcasing ethereal passages and backing vocals that add a touch of finesse to the overall result.  And Waldgeflüster continue to invade our minds and captivate our senses with the atmospheric Rotgoldene Novemberwälder (“red golden November forests”), uniting the most visceral elements from classic Black Metal with the melancholy of Atmospheric Black Metal, with strident guitar lines, intricate beats and pitch black darkness flowing nonstop from this bitterly cold aria.

In Und der Wind… (“and the wind…”), a serene intro explodes into sheer aggression and rage in the form of old school Black Metal with Thomas sounding bestial on drums while Arvagr delivers thunder through his bass lines. Moreover, your soul will certainly get lost throughout the song’s ten detailed and dense minutes; whereas in Von Winterwäldern und Mondscheinsonaten (“from winter forests and moonshine nights”) we’re treated to more flammable sounds flowing from all instruments, in special from Dominik’s and Markus’ guitars, with Winterherz roaring with all his strength while the music brings hints of Progressive Black Metal to make things even more entertaining. Then closing the regular version of the album we have the delicate Staub in der Lunge (“dust in the lungs”), beginning in the most serene way possible with its clean vocals and acoustic guitars dictating the rhythm before the entire band comes ripping one last time with their refined Black Metal sonority. In addition, Dominik and Markus once again steal the spotlight with their piercing guitar lines for our total delight. And if you acquire the black/grey double vinyl version of the album, you’ll also get the acoustic version for Der Steppenwolf as a bonus track, a beautiful and very delicate alternate rendering of one of the best songs of the album.

In case you’re already prepared to get lost in the heathen lands of Bavaria together with Waldgeflüster, you can enjoy Mondscheinsonaten in full  on YouTube and on Spotify, and purchase your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Nordvis Produktion’s official webstore (as well as from several other locations by clicking HERE). In a nutshell, as aforementioned the “moonlight sonatas” by this talented horde of musicians hailing from the stunning Bavaria are the perfect soundtrack for a cold and pensive winter walk, proving once again Folkened Black Metal is more than just a subgenre of extreme music, but an intrinsic part of the lifestyle and culture of the coldest parts of earth.

Best moments of the album: Der Steppenwolf and Gripfelstürme.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. Einleitung 3:08
2. Der Steppenwolf 7:51
3. Gripfelstürme 12:21
4. Rotgoldene Novemberwälder 6:28
5. Und der Wind… 10:52
6. Von Winterwäldern und Mondscheinsonaten 9:51
7. Staub in der Lunge 5:48

Black/Grey Double Vinyl bonus track
8. Der Steppenwolf (Acoustic version) 7:57

Band members
Winterherz – vocals, mandolin, keyboards
Dominik Frank – guitars, backing vocals
Markus Frey – guitars
Arvagr – bass, backing vocals
Thomas Birkmaier – drums

Guest musician
Johannes Schermaul – cello

Album Review – Suffering Souls / In Synergy Obscene (2019)

After ten long years, Lord Esgaroth returns with a brand new album presenting a somber and satanic identity which will appeal to all of those who respect and love the Black Metal scene from the 90’s.

Forged in 1994 in the fires of Kümmersbruck, a municipality in the Amberg-Sulzbach district, in Bavaria, Germany under the name Dismal by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Tobias “Lord Esgaroth” Micko, Symphonic Black Metal one-man army Suffering Souls is ready to darken our hearts and minds once again with his epic and stylish extreme music found in his fourth full-length opus, entitled In Synergy Obscene, coming out exactly 10 years after the release of its predecessor Sadistic Goat Complex as if time had not stopped, with all new tracks following the path of the previous album, almost unchanged from the basic principle.

On In Synergy Obscene, Lord Esgaroth presents a somber and satanic identity which will appeal to all of those who respect and love the Black Metal scene from the 90’s, sounding powerful and imposing thanks to the refined sound of all classic instruments, lead guitars and clean vocal passages, creating a new and interesting atmosphere never before seen in any of the works by Suffering Souls. Also feeling a bit more mature than its previous album, In Synergy Obscene brings forward a neat and unique musicality without sounding cheesy or repetitive, showcasing all of Lord Esgaroth’s abilities as a composer, musician and as a loyal servant to the most obscure side of Extreme Metal.

Idolised And Vilified, a melancholic, romantic and cinematic intro the likes of Cradle Of Filth, kicks off the album by setting the tone for the imposing title-track In Synergy Obscene, crushing our senses mercilessly with Lord Esgaroth’s demonic gnarls and his background orchestrations matching perfectly with his infernal Black Metal riffs and solos; and more epicness mixed with his flammable Black Metal hits us in the face in Inheritance Of Irony, where not a single space is left empty, with its guitars, keys and drums invading your senses in a full-bodied feast of symphonic sounds, ending with a long, melodic and extremely beautiful guitar solo for our total delight. That vile start is followed by In Death Reborn, perhaps the least Black Metal of all songs despite Lord Esgaroth’s old school growls and gnarls, sounding very modern and distinct from the rest of the album while its backing vocals feel a bit unstable.

Back to a more symphonic and violent mode, Lord Esgaroth fires a well-balanced fusion of classic Black Metal with melodic and modern nuances titled As The Truth Unfolds, living up to the legacy of bands like Cradle Of Fitlh and Dimmu Borgir and displaying an amazing job done on drums, being intricate and furious at the same time. Then we have The True Endless, another classic composition by Suffering Souls presenting a huge amount of epicness and delicacy coming from the keyboards while its guitars keep slashing our senses, maintaining the album’s ambience very impactful and electric before the most symphonic, melodic and introspective of all songs, The Cynic God, invites us to dance together with Lord Esgaroth, sounding at times like a fantasy movie score. The second to last breath of Symphonic Black Metal by Suffering Souls comes in the form of All You Little Devils, where Lord Esgaroth’s vocals get very close to what Shagrath does with Dimmu Borgir, elevating the song’s taste and potency considerably, whereas the closing hymn Unseen Phenomenon is a feast of blackened, melodic and symphonic sounds and tones led by Lord Esgaroth’s harsh vociferations and blast beats, with its piano and keys building a climatic ending for the album.

It might have taken 10 years for Tobias Micko to morph into his alter-ego Lord Esgaroth again and bring his Suffering Souls back from the underworld, but based on the high quality of the music found in In Synergy Obscene, which you can listen in full on Spotify and purchase from the Schwarzdorn Production’s BandCamp or webstore, from the Season of Mist webstore or from iTunes, the wait was definitely worth it. With that said, I’m sure we’ll start seeing Lord Esgaroth and Suffering Souls a lot more often than only every decade, spreading his darkness upon us and carrying the flag of Symphonic Black Metal high for years to come.

Best moments of the album: Inheritance Of Irony, As The Truth Unfolds and All You Little Devils.

Worst moments of the album: In Death Reborn.

Released in 2019 Schwarzdorn Production

Track listing
1. Idolised And Vilified 2:29
2. In Synergy Obscene 5:30
3. Inheritance Of Irony 9:23
4. In Death Reborn 5:13
5. As The Truth Unfolds 6:28
6. The True Endless 5:16
7. The Cynic God 6:28
8. All You Little Devils 4:49
9. Unseen Phenomenon 6:43

Band members
Tobias “Lord Esgaroth” Micko – vocals, guitars, strings, choirs, drums, programming

Album Review – Skognatt / Ancient Wisdom (2018)

An onrush of Atmospheric Black Metal as raw, aggressive, melodic and obscure as it can be, from the undergrounds of Bavaria directly into your mind.

Hailing from Augsburg, one of Germany’s oldest cities and the third-largest city in Bavaria (after Munich and Nuremberg), here comes a very sinister and interesting Atmospheric Black Metal/Dark Ambient one-man project named Skognatt, who have just unleashed darkness upon humanity with its first full-length album Ancient Wisdom. After its inception in 2016 by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Danijel Zambo, Skognatt released the demo Landscape of Ice in 2016, followed by the EP Stargazer that same year, and another EP in 2017 titled Ancient Wisdom (with the same name as the new album, but only featuring two songs that would be part of it). With the help of guest multi-instrumentalist Gerileme (Asche der Welten, Osteon) on drums and drum engineering, Skognatt brings forth six otherworldly compositions in Ancient Wisdom, living up to the legacy of old school Black Metal but with an atmospheric and eccentric twist added to its already somber musicality.

Macabre and phantasmagoric from the very beginning, the title-track Ancient Wisdom brings forward acoustic guitars intertwined with the sinister, demonic gnarls by Danijel, flowing smoothly and darkly until its ending, all boosted by creepy keyboard notes. Then the steady drumming by Gerileme and the lugubrious guitars by Danijel set the pace in Xibalbá, an Atmospheric Black Metal tune with hints of Symphonic Black Metal and Middle-Eastern nuances, with the vocals by Danijel sounding more devilish and anguished than before; followed by World Apart, showcasing blast beats and flammable guitar riffs (and therefore leaning towards traditional Black Metal), but also bringing a touch of delicacy and melancholy to the overall musicality through its very melodic and sometimes acoustic background sounds and tones.

More obscure than its predecessors, Thanatos alternates between melancholic, serene passages and more aggressive moments led by the piercing growls by Danijel, resulting in a Stygian hymn that can be used as the soundtrack to your deepest nightmares. As a matter of fact, Thanatos was the personification of death in Greek mythology, just to give you a sense of how dark this song is. Moving on with the album, Dark Star presents a movie-inspired intro before an explosion of demonic sounds fills the air, with Gerileme sounding even more infernal on drums in a hybrid of contemporary Ambient and Experimental Black Metal. Put differently, it can’t get any more underground, visceral and crude than this, being definitely not recommended for the lighthearted. And closing this somber and eccentric album we have another blast of Atmospheric Black Metal titled Fallen, spiced up by peculiar and whimsical sounds and featuring spoken words taken from the work of English nobleman and poet Lord Byron (1788 – 1824). Furthermore, Danijel does a great job both on keyboards and on vocals, enhancing the song’s already distinct taste until the music fades into a mesmerizing semi-acoustic outro.

In summary, Ancient Wisdom (which by the way is available for a full listen on YouTube) is one of those albums of extreme music that perfectly represent what underground metal is all about, being raw, aggressive, melodic and obscure, all at the same time. And in order to show your true support to an independent act like Skognatt, you can pay a visit to the band’s official Facebook page, and of course buy your copy of Ancient Wisdom from its BandCamp page, keeping the fires of Black Metal burning inside the dark soul of Mr. Danijel Zambo and his devilish alter ego Skognatt for years and years to come.

Best moments of the album: Xibalbá and Thanatos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Ancient Wisdom 5:17
2. Xibalbá 5:09
3. World Apart 5:19
4. Thanatos 4:06
5. Dark Star 4:50
6. Fallen + Outro 6:44

Band members
Danijel Zambo – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Gerileme – drums

Album Review – Resist The Ocean / Heart Of The Oak (2017)

This fine German quintet doesn’t bring us just good heavy music with their new album, but an organic and aggressive explosion of high-end Metalcore with marching riffs, hearty breaks and that unparalleled melody only found in European metal.

Fans of the heavy music played by bands such as As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, Trivium and All That Remains should turn their eyes (and ears) to Nuremberg, a city on the river Pegnitz and on the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal in the German state of Bavaria, where Metalcore five-piece act Resist The Ocean has been delivering high-quality metal since their inception in 2012. After the release of their debut EP Weather the Storm in 2014, those German metallers are back in perfect shape with their first full-length endeavor, titled Heart Of The Oak, an album of old school Metalcore without stereotypes that transpires sheer aggression through its ten very cohesive and electrified songs.

Composed of Jochen on vocals, Kevin and Konsti on guitars, Art on bass and Adrian on drums, Resist the Ocean craft an absolutely stunning sonority with marching riffs, hearty breaks and that unparalleled melody only found in European metal. In addition to that, Jochen is the type of frontman that doesn’t really care about clean vocals, growling almost nonstop during the whole album, which in the end has a huge impact on the band’s music and style as it increases their overall ferocity way above the average Metalcore level. The obscure and stylish cover art for Heart Of The Oak also plays an important part in the message the band wants to send to the listener, being thoroughly connect to each song of the album and to the sharp sounds emanating from all instruments.

And they need only a few seconds to take the adrenaline level to the limit with their crisp, two-fisted sonority in the opening track Oceanlung, where the amazingly heavy and melodic riffs by Kevin and Konsti guide the listener to the acid world of Resist The Ocean. In Long Road Home the whole band gets more melodic, faster and sharper, led by the pounding beats by Adrian and the once again blazing guitars by Kevin and Konsti, with Jochen’s raspy growls creating a nice paradox with the song’s polished and upbeat rhythm; while in Cauterize the band’s aggressiveness only increases as the music progresses, with Jochen reaching pure dementia with his sick screams, also presenting excellent guitar solos to give more balance to the overall result. In other words, this is one of those songs fans of modern Metalcore will have a blast listening to without a shadow of a doubt.

Adrenaline keeps flowing from all instruments in the title-track Heart Of The Oak, showcasing another superb job done by Kevin and Konsti who, supported by the solid base crafted by Adrian and bassist Art, deliver top-tier European Metalcore. Furthermore, I personally recommend you pay good attention to the official video for this song and see if you recognize who has a cameo at 1 minute and 47 seconds of the video. Yes, it’s the German tank himself, Mr. Udo Dirkschneider, who co-produced the video by the way. Getting back to the album, we have Ambers, drawing influences from modern Death Metal and Melodic Death Metal with highlights to the song’s potent beats and neck-breaking rhythm, and Handcarved Coffins, a song that could be played on any radio station due to its smoother pace and melody but that also presents that anger and violence from underground Metalcore, not to mention its electrifying chorus and guitar solos.

Dreamwalker gets back to a more straightforward formula, presenting solid instrumental and vocal lines, albeit not as creative as the rest of the album (which doesn’t mean it’s not going to work well during their live concerts, though), whereas Black Rust brings forward a thrilling and refreshing fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore, with Jochen firing his enraged growls while the other band members deliver sheer awesomeness through their riffs, rumbling bass lines and fast-paced beats, turning it into one of the best songs of the album hands down. And there are two more metallic tunes to go, starting with the brisk and melodic The Last Of Our Kind, with its backing vocals providing Jochen an extra dosage of energy to blast his growls, not to mention the amazing solos by the unstoppable duo Kevin and Konsti, before the classy Metalcore chant Gilded Cage closes the album, displaying crisp guitar lines and powerful drums. Moreover, the iTunes bonus track is a radio-friendly acoustic version of this song, with the female vocals from guest musician June (Nicki and June) instead of the growls by Jochen, and a pleasant atmosphere to go along with that tenderness.

You can brave the untamable waters of Resist The Ocean by visiting their Facebook page for news about the band (including their tour dates), enjoy their music on YouTube and SoundCloud, and purchase Heart Of The Oak through the band’s Big Cartel as a digipak or a digipak + shirt bundle, as well as several other locations such as the EMP webstore, Nuclear Blast, Amazon and iTunes. As mentioned before, this fine German quintet doesn’t just deliver good heavy music to our ears, but an organic and rampant explosion of European Metalcore that will definitely catch your attention even if this type of music is not among your favorite metal genres.

Best moments of the album: Long Road Home, Heart Of The Oak and Black Rust.

Worst moments of the album: Dreamwalker.

Released in 2017 Bleeding Nose Records

Track listing
1. Oceanlung 3:47
2. Long Road Home 3:06
3. Cauterize 3:23
4. Heart Of The Oak 4:29
5. Ambers 3:07
6. Handcarved Coffins 3:54
7. Dreamwalker 3:07
8. Black Rust 4:23
9. The Last Of Our Kind 3:46
10. Gilded Cage 4:18

iTunes Exclusive bonus track
11. Gilded Cage (acoustic version) 2:23

Band members
Jochen – vocals
Kevin – guitars
Konsti – guitars
Art – bass
Adrian – drums

Guest musician
June – vocals on “Gilded Cage (acoustic version)”

Album Review – Disgusting Perversion / Morbid Obsessions EP (2015)

Let the bloodbath begin and spread all over Bavaria and the rest of the world with the debut album by this up-and-coming old school Death Metal band.

Rating5

Disgusting Perversion - Morbid ObsessionsIf there’s a word that can be used to describe the music found in Morbid Obsessions, the debut EP by German Death Metal band Disgusting Perversion, that would definitely be “stampede”. However, instead of a wild rush of ordinary animals, what we have here is a frantic onslaught by a horde of Teutonic death metallers that will crush your body and soul with their raw old school vibration. What else can you ask for in a Death Metal album, right? Well, I guess the old school album art in Morbid Obsessions can already provide you a trustworthy preview of what you’ll find when you start your listen at the album.

Hailing from the city of Kaufbeuren (about 90km from Munich), in the Free State of Bavaria, Germany, this brand new four-piece group will surely please fans of the combination of brutality and melody made famous by names like Death, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse and so on. Not even the fact that the drums are programmed, instead of having a drummer of flesh and blood with them, makes the the album sound less organic or visceral, which in my humble opinion is the most important attribute we should expect from any type of extreme music. In other words, you have to feel the blood dripping from authentic Death Metal, and Disgusting Perversion unquestionably provide the listener that morbid but awesome perception.

War Annihilation, as its own name indicates, kicks off the album sending a clear message from the band: they play brutal Death Metal, spreading nothing but gore and violence through their path of ruination. Moreover, the riffs by guitarists Claus Schubert and Tobias Ruf are tailored for fans of renowned musicians like Chuck Schuldiner and James Murphy, and as both Claus and Tobias simply love Death, I’m pretty sure this was exactly how they wanted their guitars to sound like. In the raging Bloodbath, lead singer Stefan Bauer vociferates the lyrics as if he was possessed by an evil entity, inspired by the demonic voices of bands such as Obituary and Morbid Angel, while bassist Klaus Bergmann and his low-tuned weapon provide the listener some bestial notes. It’s that type of slow but extremely heavy sounding perfect for headbanging, enhanced by the addition of some excerpts of the fastest savagery you can find in music.

Disgusting PerversionSounding as another tribute to old school Extreme Metal, the good Flying Nightmare shows what happens when Disgusting Perversion accelerate the rhythm, turning their music into a true “nightmare” for the faint-hearted. Besides, its traditional guitar solo helps improve the balance between sheer massacre and its strong melodic lines. Then we have the most melodic of all tunes, entitled House Of The Butcher, which is not as barbaric as the previous songs and has a huge focus on the guitar lines by Claus and Tobias. The vocals by Stefan exhale pure evil as expected, and with a name like that you can have a good idea of how gruesome its lyrics are.

The title-track, Morbid Obsessions, is a great display of straightforward Death Metal, fuckin’ heavy and merciless as hell, with highlights to the dark and low growls by Stefan and the crisp guitar solos by Claus and Tobias; followed by Disgusting Perversion, the song that takes the band’s name, and let me tell you that there couldn’t be a more suitable song to carry their flag. The music is disgusting, atrocious and barbaric, reminding me of old school Sepultura with wicked vocals, leaving the listener avid for more of the band’s cruelty.

To sum up, Morbid Obsessions is a very cohesive and full-bodied work for what is “just” an EP by those promising Bavarian death metallers, who are craving for your blood at their Facebook page. And don’t forget to visit the Winterwolf Records page on eBay, where you can purchase the album. Let the bloodbath begin and spread all over Bavaria and the rest of the world with Morbid Obsessions, the debut album by a band that, if they keep working hard and remain loyal to their foundations, has a bright future ahead of them.

Best moments of the album: Bloodbath and Disgusting Perversion.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Winterwolf Records

Track listing
1. War Annihilation 4:05
2. Bloodbath 6:10
3. Flying Nightmare 4:22
4. House Of The Butcher 5:32
5. Morbid Obsessions 5:35
6. Disgusting Perversion 5:45

Band members
Stefan Bauer – vocals
Claus Schubert – guitars
Tobias Ruf – guitars, drums programming
Klaus Bergmann – bass