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Yet another band that has been around for a long time, Finnish black metal band Charnel Winds finally releases their debut full length album this year, entitled Der Teufelsbund. With a large proportion of the black metal that I enjoy hailing from Finland, Charnel Winds' release certainly excites me, especially since it features members that can be considered veterans of the scene coming from bands such as Cosmic Church and Blood Red Fog.
Album opener The Spear and the Crocodile presents with listener from the start an unconventional take on black metal, reminding listeners of bands such as Obsequiae with the unique riffing patterns, though not to the aforementioned band's extent. Unlike the typical cold, bleak atmosphere that one would expect out of the Finns, Charnel Winds presents instead a somewhat warm atmosphere (perhaps by the warmer guitar tone than other black metal acts) which is soon broken by the shrieks of vocalist Wyrmfang, which produces a nice contrast in the music. It is not much later where the rest of the band joins in the cacophony with the sudden increase in tempo by drummer Profundiis and a slightly more aggressive turn by guitarists Sandh and Shu-Ananda. But this only lasts for a moment as the band soon goes back into their original trance-inducing pace, yet the riffs in the background produce a somewhat ominous feeling. The band also incorporates unexpected moments on most of the songs, such as the guitar solo after the middle of The Spear and the Crocodile, along with the suddenly sped up tempo once again. The band also incorporates sound samples that help in bringing out the atmosphere in the music as well, such as the transition between The Spear and the Crocodile and Das Leiden.
There are a wide range of influences that are to be found on Der Teufelsbund which are discovered with every additional listen after the first. The similarity in the music style with fellow Finns such as Satanic Warmaster are evident, yet there are also moments that pay tribute to other black metal pioneers as well. Das Leiden, unlike the previous track, goes straight into a cold black metal mode and the bleakness and desolation shines through with ease through the usage of wailing lead guitars and the slow trudge that the band goes at. Later songs such as Assembly and Shadow see the band again going in pure black metal mode, only this time with more urgency and aggression, complete with the shouting vocals of Wyrmfang on the former track. The acoustic guitars, folk/viking inspired guitar solo at the beginning and the usage of clean vocals on Chained Kumara sounds like it could very well just come off a viking metal-era Bathory, only this time with vocals that are executed with much more flair, hitting every note with accuracy and even though Wyrmfang's vocals tend to strain towards the higher notes, they add a nice overall effect. Later usage of clean vocals such as on Purification of the Sacred Black Heart and Die Extase even has Wyrmfang sounding almost like Ihsahn. Die Extase further brings in a punk-ish feel with the high energy that is present on the song, on the beginning riffs.
Guitarists Sandh and Shu-Ananda constantly prove their worth throughout the album not only through the execution of high-speed guitar solos, but also from the numerous different styles that they had to adapt to according to the songs. Then there is the constantly rumbling bass guitars at the background that most black metal bands tend to neglect, ensuring that the low end of the sound spectrum is covered, providing for a somewhat warm and full-sounding experience on Der Teufelsbund.
Der Teufelsbund is a mixed bag of surprises, with each track that is carefully crafted by the band to ensure that the listener is kept enchanted and interested throughout, whether he is a fan of old school black metal or their more well-known counterparts. Werewolf Records on their website claims that "You will not find here anything that we ourselves would not pay a full price for" and this is evidently true judging from this release.