Archive for urfaust

Underrated Black Metal Gems

Posted in Hirilorn, Mutilation Rites, Trist, Urfaust, Zwenz with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

I made a video to go along with this article.   It’s set up to allow you to sample the tunes while you read my descriptions!

1. Mutilation Rites – Rewind a week back.  My friends and I, all college students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, are in attendance at a local black metal show on the second floor of a co-op.  Only a block away from the hordes of drunk fraternity parties, the concert seemed to exist in its own little microcosm.  As if to highlight this disparity, an old couple’s dinner party was visibly occurring in the adjacent building, completely unaware of the sonic blasphemy taking place a mere 10 feet from their window.  However, this unique atmosphere would have amounted to nothing if the bands weren’t up to snuff.  But, oh my…were they.  New York based Mutilation Rites was undoubtedly the highlight of the show.  Despite only having a single demo to their name, they blast like veterans of the genre.  A hint of melancholy but plenty of headbangable moments as well.  I could see them getting signed pretty soon.


2. Trist – Not to be confused with the suicidal band from the Czech Republic, the Trist from Germany is instead a more atmospheric band that demands an open mind and plenty of patience.  Especially on the hour-long ambient black metal track “Hin,” the listener is forced to treat the song as one would a traditional ambient cut.  The buzz guitars and quick drumming almost paradoxically become a source of the ambience, with subtle keyboards drifting in and out ranging from a magical melody to spacey whooshes.  Trist are one of those bands that necessitate a certain mindset of the listener in order to exhibit its maximal effects.  For me, I need a cloudy and rainy day coupled with a sense of relaxation and slight sadness.  My experiences with Trist are a rarity, but consequently, I cherish their almost spiritual effect that much more.


3. Urfaust –  While Trist focuses on expansive and space-like soundscapes, Urfaust goes deep within, concurrently forcing an existential search whilst dipping into titillating pleasures like liquor and occultism.  Urfaust seems to be built around these paradoxes (or do they even deserve to be labeled as such?).  Sonically, Urfaust builds upon the dichotomous structure that Burzum so popularized, namely the album arrangement of metal tracks lulled slowly to pure ambience.  Urfaust have traversed styles throughout their releases though, eventually landing upon a noisier and more ritualistic sound on the latest release.  But if you want my opinion, start with Geist Ist Teufel, their most emotional album.  (Also, keep on the lookout for an Urfaust interview coming up on Pantheon!)


4. Hirilorn –  Hirilorn has already been praised to infinity on Pantheon, through my review of Legends of Evil and Eternal Death, and Ryan’s Top Metal Songs article.  However, I find it hard to stress enough, how fantastical and majestic Hirilorn truly is.  Most lengthy black metal songs, either trance-inducing (Trist!) or flat out boring (99% of those bands who try), all usually seem to rely on the groundwork laid by the early 90s innovators.  Few bands truly break free of the simple Darkthrone riff style, that so effortlessly becomes a bore to hear.  Hirilorn opted for a more epic approach, with guitars that fit the long running time of the album.  I’ve still never heard a more epic lead guitar work.  Strangely enough, the rhythm guitarist Hasjarl went on to form Deathspell Omega, one of the most technical and progressive metal bands around today.  And he was only the rhythm guitarist…I wonder what the lead guitarist is doing nowadays.  I also can’t believe, given Deathspell Omega’s popularity, that Hirilorn is such a well-kept secret.  I’m trying to bring it out!

P.S. – The combination of Hirilorn with the Berserk manga and anime series is a match made in heaven.

5.  ZwenZ – Speaking of well-kept secrets, German one-man band ZwenZ is responsible for one of the best folk/black metal albums I’ve ever heard: A Life’s Work of Natrgaard.  Yet, nobody seems to listen to it!  Surely, ZwenZ’s discography is really hit or miss, mostly miss if you ask me.  That being said, this album is definitely a dictionary definition ‘diamond in the rough.’  Self-released in 2005, it never quite received the coverage it deserved.  The nature vibes of this album are out of control, with fellow German band Horn being the only band that comes anywhere close.  Natrgaard is a fantastic guitarist who switches masterfully between tremolo-picked riffing, Bathory-influenced acoustic moments, and beautiful clean soloing.  In addition, the vocals, both clean and harsh, are top-notch and the employment of a flute adds an unquantifiable amount of atmosphere.  Definitely give this a chance.  If this truly is Natrgaard’s life’s work, then well done sir.  I’ve downloaded it, but I also suggest purchasing it.  He just re-released it on his website and it’s pretty dang cheap:

– Max