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It's actually good that "Höllentanz" partly failed its purpose, as it was originally released to mark the end of Amestigon, one of Austria's longest lasting underground entities. Partly, because it still succeds at being a very memorable release, which would definitely be a high closing note for a band's career. Luckily, Tharen went back on his decision and decided to resurrect the band not very long afterwards, so to this day "Höllentanz" stands as the mark that ends Amestigon's first era.
While several Austrian Black Metal acts seem to be linkied to Sbigor somehow, nothing surpasses this release in terms of close relationship between the two bands. First, Tharen himself used to be a member of Abigor in their demo days, and subsequently partecipated as a session member on vrious Abigor albums. Then we have Thurisaz, who would get to work with Peter K. in his side-project, Heidenreich, and would eventually become Abigor's vocalist after the departure of Silenius (who is part of Amestigon nowadays). Finally, Peter himself and Thomas T. were used as session musicians in this recording.
At this point it becomes pretty easy to understand the very apparent similarities between "Höllentanz" and early Abigor albums, yet Amestigon have something different going on. It's actually interesting to hear Peter's trademark high pitched riffing and Thomas's overpowering drumming performing something they didn't write in first place, and give this mcd an additional spark.
The opus begins with the title track, predicatbly introduced by one of Tharen's keyboard pieces, very dark but not as intricate as others. Then the first riff begins, and the sound changes dramatically from deep and menacing to extremely harsh and trebly, with no low end to be found almost anywhere. Still, the guitar work comes across as clear and strong, and the drums are powerful and precise, while Tharen's vocals are as sick as ever (he even uses some occasional deep vocals too). The song has a fairly basic structure, switching from slower breaks to more dynamic verses, and serves very well as an opener.
"Rattenfänger", on the other hand, is slow, repetitive and claustrophobic, ending dangerously close to the 10 minute mark! This track is clearly influenced by Darkthrone / Burzum lesson in minimalism, although Amestigon develope it in their own way. The slow rhythm is occasionally made faster by intense double bass drumming, while the ominous guitar riffs drive the composition onwards, into ever deeper desperation. Definitely a song to avoid if you are not a fan of the genre.
After this long journey, the slow opening riff to "The Gates To a Red Moon" did scare me a bit, but very soon the song explodes into the fastest track of the lot. It's a pity that T.T.'s loud blastbeats and Tharen's screams worn out most of the riffs (they can still be made out after some listens), but on the other hand, the Thrashy passage after each riff simply destroys. A great way to show Amestigon's more aggressive side.
The album closes on "Atmosfear", a short, moody instrumental consisting of a single riff introduced by acoustic guitars and then performed by electric guitars accompained by drums (there could be a bass too, but who could tell?). Short, simple and effective - things I like.
"Höllentanz" represent a very interesting document of Austrian Black Metal done well. Fans of Abigor will find it very interesting, while general Black Metal listeners might enjoy it as a nice detour from the usual genre ideas.