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Before abandoning the genre in the mid 1990s to go off on a series of tangents that I don't care at all to discuss , Atrocity was perhaps THE European death metal band. They released two albums of killer technical, well written music. The first, "Hallucinations" (a concept album about drug abuse), was a raw and punishing effort showing strong influences from German thrash a la Kreator as well as American death metal in the style of Atheist or Obituary. It was a great album that was very impressive for just a debut. By the time of their 2nd album (released as "Longing For Death" in America) they had evolved far beyond that into something I can only describe as awesome. The songwriting becomes much more intricate while still being highly memorable, and the whole thing exudes a thick atmosphere of gloom and decay. There are hints of classical aspirations in the construction of the songs and their use of themes, and the album is book-ended by variations of the opening theme.
Now onto the music itself. The album opens with orchestral sounds playing a slow and doomy theme which is then taken over by distorted guitars. Many of the riffs feature very interesting chord progressions and harmonies the likes of which I haven't heard in many other places. At times there are riffs that remind me of something like Morbid Angel or Death, though many of them are quite unique. The soloing is at once tasteful and technical, the two guitarists on this album are really amazing to listen to. Bass is present to a degree, though pushed to the background somewhat. You can hear it throwing in some cool ideas in certain bits though, as well as matching the guitars and drums tightly. Speaking of drums, I just love the sound and production of the drums on this album, especially the snare and toms. The playing is imaginative, without an over reliance on blast beats, with a bunch of wicked fills and accents. The vocals are a harsh growl that reminds me of Napalm Death circa "Harmony Corruption" and background screams are layered in choice moments. A segment of Wagner's "Götterdämmerung" is given a death metal twist to devastating effect in "Sky Turned Red", hinting further at the fact that someone in this band had interest in the methods of classical music. The lyrics serve well to highlight the mood of the instrumentals and are very well written in my opinion.
Every song on this album is distinct and packed full of great moments, from epics like "Sky Turned Red" to more heads down and catchy death metal numbers like "Necropolis", which are no less impressive. Indeed the solo from "Necropolis" would be my pick for best guitar lead on the album. The real jewel in the crown though, has to be "A Prison Called Earth". After an onslaught of unforgettable riffing, a brief and moody symphonic part moves into the incredible ending riff that gradually slows down and collapses in on itself, a moment that never fails to blow me away. Then the album returns to where it began with a reprise of the opening track, which launches into one final mesmerizing burst of speed with yet another quality riff, before ceasing abruptly.
From a time of great experimentation in extreme music this is a highlight and something every fan of well written death metal should seek out. It isn't overly pretentious either, this is still death metal and you will be compelled to bang your head many times while listening to this, while admiring the ambitious structure and ideas on display. In my eyes, a total classic.
Imagine you are in a decaying, abandoned concert hall. An inharmonious symphony shakes the moldering wooden rafters above your head, causing gritty dust to fall into your eyes. Through the gloom of spectral light you can barely make out the ghastly apparitions on stage swaying their cadaverous forms with the timing of the music. Frightened, yet strangely enraptured, you realize that you’ve discovered Atrocity’s venerable death metal opus Todessehnsucht.
Released in 1992 on Roadrunner Records—titled Longing For Death in the U.S.—this album was, and still is, counted among the greatest works of German Death Metal. And it’s for good reason, too. The guitar arrangements and song structures are some of the best composed for a Metal release.
The album begins with the title track Todessehnsucht, a doomy symphonic instrumental that inspires dread while setting up the album’s thematic ideas. This is done through the use of strings, tympani and an incredibly eerie guitar lead. Scary shit.
Next is Godless Years, and from then on the album poses an entertaining balancing act of attrition. Each song has its own theme, and variations on those themes, giving the impression that someone in this band had training in composition.
Given the sophisticated nature of the music, I was expecting Todessehnsucht to be pretentious and difficult to digest. But Atrocity succeeds where other ambitious acts have failed: the music is immersive and places you in an apocalyptic scene painted by mayhem, misanthropy and morbidity. Oh yea, and Metal.
The opening riff to Defiance is damned good. So is the song’s swirling pattern, which pounds out the heaviness before a show stopping, finger tapped guitar solo that sounds like it was stripped from a classical work.
Another classical component that proves to be a prominent thematic element appears about half way through the album. The track Introduction, which leads into Sky Turned Red, is breathtaking, and both songs feature a demented variation on the music from Richard Wagner’s opera “Götterdämmerung.” The result is a haunting, brutal, memorable passage.
Laced throughout the complexities of the music are Alex Krull’s brilliant vocals. He sounds like some demonic spirit familiar bellowing from beyond the firmament. On Unspoken Names, his vocal arrangements sound poetic in their metric dance across the riff structures. During the chorus of Necropolis, you feel engaged enough to growl along with him.
The album ends with a reprise of the title track and is the final variation on theme. It’s a successful reintroduction, tying off the album the same way it began. It is this unity that makes Todessehnsucht one of the greatest death metal albums of all time. After this classic, the band turned to a gothic/industrial sound that many fans lamented.
So be it. With Todessehnsucht, we’ll always have the chance to enter a terrifying landscape, breathing in the musty death created by this orchestral atrocity.
Originally published at http://web.mac.com/mistersquiggles/leprosarium/Home.html
Ahhh, pure bliss! Another totally mind-blowing release of complex yet brutal death metal from Atrocity. “Todessehnsucht” sees the band expand their early style a bit with the inclusion of classical instruments and opera singers for some parts of the album. This of course makes me think of e.g. Celtic Frost, who on “To Mega Therion” and “Into the Pandemonium” fused metal with classical elements. I’d say Atrocity took this part of Celtic Frost’s legacy and applied it to their own music. There’s no need to worry for those death metallists who dislike such influences though, as the classical influences aren’t used to the extent that they’d water down the death metal essence.
In general the tracks on “Todessehnsucht” are very technical with tons of different riffs and melodies plus at times seemingly inaccessible structures due to the complex arrangements. It took much longer for me to get into this album than it took to get into “Hallucinations”, at times I felt like this was just too technical and without any kind of catchiness. The band have no doubt been extremely ambitious when composing the music and they’ve also added heavy doom passages to some of the tracks. Today I consider this to be one of the best technical/progressive death metal albums along with “Hallucinations” and stuff by bands such as Atheist, At the Gates and latter era Death. The playing is very tight and the band is able to deliver these challenging songs with precision. Especially drummer Michael Schwarz deserves a mention.
The title track starts in a bombastic way with classical instruments playing one of its riffs. Soon the guitars and the drums join the classical instruments, all playing this riff in unison, sounds good! This track is a rather short one (well, almost four minutes actually but it feels shorter), serving as an introductory piece to the album. It also features a short verse, narrated by Alex. “Godless Years” is where the technical death metal mayhem really starts: complicated drum patterns (ranging from jazz influenced beats to blastbeats) and arrangements, technical riffing & melodies and sudden clean guitar breaks. All this is then crowned by Alex’s brutal growls. “Unspoken Names“ is the perfect combination of brutal blasting death metal and some very detailed guitar and drum work during the slower parts of the track. “Defiance” starts with a good heavy melodic riff and some complex drum fills, after which it goes straight into technical death metal heaven with complex guitar melodies and rhythms, plus some jazzy parts as well as blastbeats.
“Introduction” is a short track performed by the classical orchestra & choir and it introduces “Sky Turned Red”, a heavy and almost doomy, yet still very technical track. There are a lot of breaks and rhythm changes here as well, especially the beginning gives Atheist a good run for their money. The first verse is totally uncatchy due to the extreme technicality of the music, whereas the chorus is simple and doomy. During the chorus the opera singers can be heard as they sing together with Alex. My complaint here is that I think the opera singers should have been mixed a bit louder, the chorus would’ve sounded even more grand then. The same goes for the choir parts on “A Prison Called Earth”.
With the exception of the title track and its reprise, only “Triumph at Dawn” and “Necropolis” can be said to be relatively straightforward in structure, yet also these two tracks are more complex than your “average death metal song”. My version of this album closes with a brilliant cover of Death’s “Archangel”, a song featured e.g. on the “Infernal Death” demo. Death never re-recorded this song for any of their albums and that’s why it’s great to hear this professional re-recording. The opening riff alone is something to kill for and to hear it with a heavy studio production always gives me a kick. With “Todessehnsucht” Atrocity reached the pinnacle of their early death metal style.
Okay okay okay okay....many people do not know that this happens to be one of the best death metal albums around. Well they should...and they'd be a lot happier and more grimmed up if they did.
If you have ever heard atrocity then you will recnognise two elements on this album: the vocals and guitars. These are noises that let us know who is playing!..everything else seems to fuck off in another direction on their different releases.
So, with this in mind, I will describe. The album begins with an orchestral intro that blows away pretty much all other orchestral intros, before being complemented and progressed upon by lovely, heavy guitarwork (and drums and bass haha). This intoduction sets the album up, from here on it is very atmospheric, although not usually symphonic, death. agressive and maddened death!
The best thing about Atrocity is their deep rooted madness as a band, and it is this release where the brutallity and mentallity (!!!) blend best. It still manages to sound menacing consistently without becoming comedic.
Absolutely brilliant...full of chugging riffs, thrashy riffs, blasting sections, slow atmospheric sections, rabid vocals, inventive basslines and the best and craziest fuckin solos ever recorded.....buy or cry!!
Oh yeah...wait till you hear what they do to Wagners' theme from 'Excalibur' on 'As the sky turns red' and their version of Deaths' demo dayzzz stinker 'Archangel'