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Absurd is a black metal band from Germany and their career has been highly controversial due to the murder of 15 year old classmate Sandro Beyer in the early 1990s. Around this time, the band's sound was more of RAC and Oi! punk mixed with black metal, but the main reason for even considering the band's early work black metal is the raw, primitive production and dark sound. Musically, this band was not that talented and had obviously just started playing.
Musically, "Totenlieder" differs greatly from the band's previous full-length studio records: "Facta Loquuntur" from 1996 and "Werwolfthron" from 2001. While those two albums were heavily punk-influenced, the latter even more so, this album is probably Absurd's first recording to truly sound almost completely black metal. While the punk influences are still here in small amounts (and usually unnoticeable), this record serves as a major turning point and transitional album in Absurd's career. Also, this marks Absurd's first attempt at providing a folk-influenced sound. The opening track, "In die Schlacht", definitely shows folk influence in the riffs, especially the ones in the intro of the song. There is also an acoustic section in this track, and wow is it amazing. It is accompanied by a folksy riff on the electric guitar. This album is actually not all that fast-paced either, as it tends to stay in the realm of slow to mid-paced tempos. It is raw, but not nearly as raw as their early releases, which actually makes the music a whole lot more enjoyable as the listener can easily dissect what he/she is hearing. Also, I believe this is Absurd's first full-length to contain the lyrics only in German, as not one track is English. Vocally, it's good. This is really my only complaint: they seem too fast at times. Like, faster than necessary. The vocals are good, but I have heard much better and I only wish they were more consistent. Still, it doesn't really affect the album too much.
All in all, "Totenlieder" is a great record from a great band. Fans of Temnozor, Nokturnal Mortum, and other bands that play black metal with folksy sounds will eat this up.
Absurd are a band that have become legendary throughout the black metal scene. However, the legacy is not for their music, but for the deeds of a couple of their past members, Hendrik Mobus in particular, which overshadowed all else.
So, what of their music? Well, their early material was very basic, badly produced and to be honest, not that great – a poor mans impression of the generic punkish R.A.C styled black metal which was becoming popular around the time. However, fast forward to 2003, with several line up changes and a new vision, Totenlieder was released on the unsuspecting public, simultaneously changing my view of the band completely and garnering new found respect amongst underground fanatics all over. Totenlieder certainly has black metal at its core, but it's so much more than that. Opening with 'In Die Schlacht', it has a great folkish vibe similar to that done so well by Velimor and Temnozor, with great melody, arrangement and hook laden tunefully black compositions. There's intuitive use of melodic guitar lines over the backing riffs which works really well, especially when mixed with bright acoustic passages – it's all very mid-paced and cadenced, not to mention Germanic and patriotic– what more would you expect from a band like Absurd? There are even some tracks ('Nordmännerlied' in particular) that remind me of Falkenbach at times, pushing the folky edge further still. The vocals are uniquely raw and squawked (which suits the harsh German lyrics perfectly), but may take a bit of getting used to upon first listen for some.
All in all, this is actually a damn decent album, and a world apart from the material that the band released prior to it. So, if you've never checked the band out before and want to, I'd advise no better place to start than by picking this album up – mature, folk influenced and well conceived music.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com
Early Norwegian Black metal is in my opinion unparalleled for its uniqueness and its originality of course. It also seems half the bands are in jail for church burnings or murders. Of the bands in jail (although not Norwegian, but certainly Norwegian inspired), Absurd is a damn good one, with good and bad albums they know how to make unique rhythmic, atmospheric, and unique music. Perhaps because of the bands violent history or perhaps just because of musical talent, these guys are able to make a unique and enjoyable album, although not as straight forward or universally appealing as other mainstream bands like Carpathian Forest or Marduk (those fuckers).
Although this album is unique and different, it may not be because I am sure other bands have done this, but when done poorly it can sound very bad. So Totenlieder does not deserves points for uniqueness, they deserve points for doing a unique and somewhat difficult type of black metal to master so well. The song structures vary, but at the core you will find a rhythm based song with a focus on rhythm and flowing vocals. At times the force of the rhythm can be carried out with either a raw buzz saw type guitar (washed out usually, this is done most of the time), acoustic guitar, or some sort of bass. The songs have no discernable centralized structure, more or less they are rhythmic rants that sound is folkish in nature. An odd but appropriate description of how the songs sound is like a combination of folk structure/vocals and propaganda speech/singing/speaking. This is largely due to the vocals, which although are clearly black metal, are also quite different. They have little to no tone of hate in them, nor do they carry a lot of power or energy like the vocals or bands like Immortal or Carpathian Forest. They are delivered in one of two ways, when the song focuses on rhythm through various or even one instrument they tend to sing along with them, when little rhythm is present and the song takes on a chaotic or folkish jam tome, they become choppy to accommodate the sparatic and chaotic music. The album can range from slow to mid paced, it is rarely fast paced, most songs have a folkish Germanic feel to them, all are unique in the sense of their structure and difference from other more popular black metal bands. Melodic riffs can be found throughout the album, which adds a melancholic and somber atmosphere. The only thing that turned me off was at times the vocals were to fast and incoherent, which usually isn’t a problem for black metal, but here it doesn’t work because the music isn’t very loud to begin with nor is it fast, so these vocals clashed with the tone and speed of the songs, but they do at to the sometimes (but not often) present dirty/jam sound.
Totenlieder is for anyone who likes to try different black metal and/or likes folk undertones and rhythm based black metal. The album has little turn offs aside from at times to fast and incoherent vocals. Not bad at all for a 2003, consider all the poser black metal bands and other crap out there. Buy if you like something different or unique, not for fans of aggressive (in terms of loud and blatant black metal) black metal or clean black metal. For only the minor vocal problems on a few songs it falls short of being great.
We all know Absurd, at least for the murder of Sandro Beyer, and maybe for their music, which up to this release was not that spectacular. I would not agree that the music sucked. It sure was simple and badly produced music, but it had a certain atmosphere, which made them somehow unique, not good, but unique. Still it did not hurt not to know them.
But then their "Totenlieder" was released. You should not expect the music to be very technical or pretentious, it remains quite simple, but in this case it is more a strength than a weakness, as for their unique style is combined with improvement in songwriting and production. The songs are perfect to shout along and so many songs are best described as hymns. Especially "Nordmännerlied", "Wolfsherz", "Der Hammer zerschmettert das Kreuz" and "Wenn Walküren reiten" , which are my four favorites on this album. As already mentioned, the production is really good this time. It is far away from being overproduced and still has a little rawness in it. The melodies are really great and don't get boring for a long time.
So, if you want an album with great melodies, a perfect production (for this kind of music) and full of hymns to shout along (if you can speak german ;) ), this should be your choice.