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Eisenvater - I - 100%

Avestriel, February 11th, 2013

1992 was a special time. The whole of the early 90's was. It was a time when second wave black metal was preparing its revolutionary rise. It was second wave death metal's zenith and last days before the black explosion (and the subsequent groove and death'n'roll explorations). In 1992 the doomier (perhaps even stoner-ish) and heavier genres were having a ball with the likes of Godflesh, Esoteric, Cathedral and Fudge Tunnel (to mention a few and cover a slightly varied specter). In this context, we find this seldom mentioned german band: Eisenvater; Ironfather.

And what a context! Truly this band couldn't have existed outside of the first half of the 90's, except perhaps as a contemporary attempt to recall said era. What lies here is, at its core, a flawless attempt (or perhaps it wasn't attempted, which would make the effort all the more impressive) at joining the two extremes of its era in a harmonious way, without quite predicting the sudden slowdown of all extreme metal bands around 1994. Instead we get what I'd dare to call a new sound (or at least it was new at the time) which I'd hastily describe as some form of sludgegrind. A mainly heavy, dragging, chuggy slomo-hardcore sound punctuated with sudden fugues of remarkably fast blastbeats and death-like riffing. Very dark, brooding and possessing a form of heaviness seldom found at the time or since, the music holds all the groove bands like Pantera wished they had in their heyday and all the pondering, at-times-breakdown-ish-but-in-a-good-way aggressiveness of which the primordial (and as of 1992 thankfully nonexistant) mallcore movement known as nu-"metal" would wish it could even dream, all of it interspaced in an intelligent and balanced manner with a variety of grindcoresque guttural and throaty vocals and the aforementioned sudden burst of blastbeating and generally deathgind-oriented riffing.

The guitars are thick and low, as tend to be the vocals. The drumming is sparse and atmospheric at its slowest and relentlessly machinelike at its fastest. The guitars tend to follow the same lines, occasionally playing off of eachother in a way not unlike Gorefest's best compositions. Except with a better quality, which is amazing knowing this was released twenty one years ago. The bass suffers a bit on account of volume and overall lack of independence, but it's a necessity, especially during the slower bits. There's more than the usual metal instrumentation, but most any extra element dwells in subtlety. There's even a slightly industrial aura to it all, recalling at times the aforementioned Godflesh without making direct references to their sound. But the droning guitars, tribal-like drumming and the concert of feedback that, at times, adorn this release, mixed with the sheer originality of the compositions make this band a better accompaniment to Godflesh than almost anything else I can think of, including Pitchshifter (and I don't even mean their early, shameless-Godflesh-copycat releases [nor their awful nu-metal ventures post-Desensitized]).

In all, it's the slowest parts that take the spotlight, but they'd be reduced to at best a german answer to the heavy bands of the era (not only within metal) if not for the deathgrind that comes with them, which rise this band to the level of unique. Revolutionary, even, had this release been given the attention it deserved at the time of its release. It's quite a clever combo, and in fact it took other bands a good five years or so to realise this, which makes Eisenvater look, or rather sound, like an extremely influential band, yet I'd be hard pressed to find one single band or artist that quotes them as influence. What happened, seems to me, is simply that this otherwise unknown german band reached a conclusion that would eventually form itself independently on many other bands, a good number of years after the fact. It happens.

If you've ever wondered what it'd be like to mix the final glory days of death metal (pre-rebirth in the form of extreme and/or technical death metal which was the norm for the third wave) with the sludge/groove(/grunge?) tendencies that were also running strong at the time, then I doubt there's a band that represents this unlikely mixture than Eisenvater, and out of the three albums I've listened to (their 90's albums), I believe this one's the most deserving of your praise.