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Asgarsdsrei is essentially a German NS black metal album with oi/punk influences, which can turn off even the most hardcore of black metal fans. I guess it would be fair to say that you either love Absurd or you hate them. The reason for it being either their "sloppy" playing, or their political viewpoints. I got this album back in 2000, and it truly made an impact on me. No, it didn't turn me into a skinhead or mohawked punk-rock loving Nazi, but this album would probably make my Top 10 of all time. What I loved about this album, was how sloppy, raw and garage sounding it was, yet it was so convincing and real! This album helped convince me that rawness and minimalism was the way to go in black metal. Don't be mistaken, this is definitely a black metal album, but with oi/punk tendencies. It should be no different than other black metal bands adding death, doom or classical/orchestral influences in their music.
Like I said, the music is very raw, garage sounding and minimalistic. Well, that's for the actual metal songs. See, the intro and outro are ambient type songs. The instrument that stands out here the most is the guitar. It is really heavy, alternating between black metal and punk riffs. Sometimes, there is some chugging, but essentially the riffs blend the two styles fantastically. The riffs aren’t overly punky like you might think, they sound very much like Vlad Tepes or Torgeist at times. In other words, (yes, for the last time) RAW! The vocals are fantastic and convincing, some of the best black metal vocals I've ever heard. They are loud, but not high pitched, and you can actually understand the words of Doom, even if he is singing in German. The drumming of JFN is very simplistic and militaristic in the sense that it sounds like a military march in some songs. Not many rolls, blast beats or double bass, but JFN gets the job done. NO WANKERY TO BE FOUND HERE! One word for the production: NECRO! The production is no different from how I described the various other factors; you can't even (or hardly) hear the bass. The production here is as bad ass, lo-fi and necro as any Black Legions release. The funny thing about this release is that while most great black metal albums are good as a whole, they don’t really have songs that stand out from each other. On this album, every song stands out from the other.
The intro, "Leben ist Krieg, Krieg ist Leben" is a fantastic opener for this type of music. Its essentially an ambient intro filled with tank sounds, battle cries and machine gun fire. It is accompanied by a beautiful, yet melancholic, keyboard line made by none other than Rob Darken of Graveland. "Asgardsrei" is an excellent song to start the album with. It's fast (for them) and has a great guitar solo in the middle. It sets the mood for the album perfectly. "Crux Gammata" is an ok song, which to me, is the most punky/oi-ish of the original 5 tracks. It is not a "real" song in the sense that there are no vocals. It is essentially an instrumental with (what i presume to be) old Nazi era recordings of German leaders speaking in the background. The highlight of the album is truly "Germanien Uber Alles," a 10 minute raw oi/black metal epic. The song is essentially looped, so that the vocal styles per passage (black metal screams and clean vocals) shift in and out in an alternating pattern. The vocals really make this song and the clean part in the chorus makes you want to raise your right hand and do a Nazi salute or something (haha), it is very epic and he can actually sing. "Sonnenritter" is a fantastic way to close the album, a slow ambient song with some whispering.
I can't honestly say that if you find this album, get it. I know that Absurd's music is not for everyone. As for myself, being Asian and all, I know a lot of non Caucasian people might not find this very amusing either. But fans of lo fi, garage-inspired necro black metal a la LLN will be surprised and maybe even impressed. If that sounds good to you, then you will love this release. In other words, what Absurd lack in technical skills, they make up for in pure attitude and conviction! Germanien Uber Alles!
(NOTE: I only reviewed the original version of this release, but if you can get the versions with the 4 other tracks. )
With their strong national socialist ideology being either morally or intellectually questionable to some and their status as a Metal band in general - considering the reminiscence to Punk-based music, most notoriously the "White Power" Rock created by the British band Skrewdriver - being questionable to others, the German Absurd might very well be the least accepted band in the wider Metal scene - mallcore excluded - of all times. However, particularly with the Asgardsrei MCD in mind, both points are limited in their validity, if they are valid at all. On the ideological side Absurd certainly are on no common grounds with any of the dull "hooligan core" with lyrical content that does not go beyond the call for and the description of racially motivated bar brawls and streetfight, which is one generally imagines "neo-nazi music" to be and which is the most cases it sadly is. The ideology of Absurd is clearly and quite obviously the result of year-long historical research in the fields of pre-christian Germany and its polytheist mythology as well as in the renaissance of pre-christian Germany during the hegemony of the national socialist party in 1933-45. Particularly, Absurd call for a strong reincarnation of the greater Germany within the borders of its tribal, pre-christian time until the invasion of C. Julius Caesar into todays France and later the invasion of todays Germany's core region by Atilla the Hun, leading to the destruction or degradation of the pre-christian German lifestyle. Also, the rebirth of the old pre-christian mythology is being called for, as well as the traditional German values of strength, honour and loyalty to family, comrade and leader, perseverance, etc.
Musically this release does indeed contain material of a punk/oi!-based "fight song" character, but it combines these elements with militaristic ambience such as the sound sample of a notorious German person of historical fame in the song "Crux Gammata" or the almost monumental keyboards in "Sonnenritter", by the way contributed by Joseph Maria Klump of the famous German neoclassical band Von Thronstahl. The ten-minute song "Germanien über Alles" even attempts to obtain the character of an anthem to the cause or even to the greater Germany that they call for, and quite frankly, with its melody-carrying clean vocals and the driving drums it does so quite successfully. The only song in which the core elements of the music are on its own without any further elements coming in - the title track "Asgardsrei" - unfortunately at the same time is the worst song of this release as it just doesn't seem to fit in between the grandous songs surrounding it, including the intro contributed by Rob Darken of Graveland. Still, on its own it is at the very least an acceptable song by Absurd standards and does not drag the overall rating for this release down by any significant amount.
In general, I can only warmly recommend this MCD to everyone who is not too closed-minded about either the definition of Metal or the morality of nationalist politics. And for all those who are already familiar with this band I can even more warmly recommend this as probably their best release. Go for it!
Years after the musical peak of black metal, this renowned German horde released an epic of dynamic proportions compressed into an EP with a running time of under half an hour. Thrusting their fists in the face of Judeo-Christian values with minimalistic and militant pieces, these musicians use simple verse-chorus structures combined with marching beats and vocals ranging from a harsh growl to clean singing that influences the listener on a subconscious level, evoking a strong emotional reaction. Fusing two musical genres that embrace the ideas of racial seperation and nationalistic pride, ‘Asgardsrei’, combinating black metal aesthetics with oi-inspired riffing/soloing, stands, much like the topic of concept, as an uncompromising expression of these beliefs in opposition to Semitic morality and remains one of the last monuments of worth in this aged genre.