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As time goes on, I may up my score of this album, but on the other hand I may lower it. I am only familiar with "Dominanz", and can tell you that there is quite a vast chasm betwixt these 2 albums. "Dominanz" was full of guitar riffs and a very basic form of early Gorgoroth-worship, which ain't all that bad. However, it did not stand out as unique, although it was a fantastically brutal album and very satisfying. In the end, however, it could have been a Pest-era straightforward Gorgoroth material clone (without any of the dorky experimental junk that Gorgoroth began to employ with more frequency).
"Reich", however, is a very different animal, though the ever-present comparison to Gorgoroth can be used again, just not to such a precise mould. We can compare this one more to "Twilight of the Idols" (again, without the pretention of the tedious experimental parts Gorgoroth insisted on breaking up that album with). "Reich" is droningly, scrapingly bleak soundscapes of violence and hopelessness. I will use the same word used by other reviewers, 'relentless'. The listener will not be able to name which song they are listening to (with a few obvious exceptions when the "sing along chorus" HA HA HA! appears in some songs...just kidding), but they will not mistake Endstille for Gorgoroth on this one. The previous guitar "riffs" have been replaced by extremely odd guitar "tones". Upon first listen, I did not really like the album at all because of this. With repeated listens, I grew to appreciate the unique (to me) approach Endstille has taken. There is not much on here in the way of variety of compostion, all songs rumble along fuelled by the drums and vocal phrasings, whereas the guitars take a peculiar role that is akin to some crummy hippy maggot playing his guitar badly while trying to sing along to some anthem charles manson wrote...but in a GOOD way! As a guitar player, I can attest that there are some very weird, completely un-natural guitar chords on "Reich", and that is what makes up the bulk of the songs' identity. Don't let the "hippy" analogy scare you off, I simply meant someone playing unknown chords that sound unsettlingly otherworldly in conjunction with the rest of the music. Upon very deep listening, one can begin to pick out melodies within these freakish tones. But there is hardly any "riffing" per se. Please do NOT get the idea this is "progressive" black metal in any way...it isn't that outre'. But I found it to be very unusual, and difficult to understand at first.
One drawback to this album, again in comparison to "Dominanz", is the vocals. They are very high-pitched and lacking in variety. There is some divergence from the usual shrieking, but not much. It walks the fine line between parody and artistry, I think. However, for those who enjoy that type of unrelenting vocal attack, they will be most enjoyable. It isn't like they sound improper in the framework of the music.
The production on this is quite thick and meaty, though the piercing vocals may not encourage you to turn it up very loud! The production and playing and material honestly do achieve the effect of making the listener feel like they're being dragged behind a tank, over blasted landscapes of barbed wire and mutilated former humans. I'm still not sure if I entirely enjoy Endstille's "new sound", but I'm sure many people will due to it's unstoppable heaviness.
With their 5th release Endstille continue along their path of aggressive, relentless black metal in an old school vein. The band consists of bass, drums, guitar, and vocals, leaving out keyboards and instead using the production to add atmosphere to the music. The production on this cd is definitely the best it's been on an Endstille cd. The style of music (heavy) just demands a lot of low end support, and on cds like Dominanz (which had great riffing) one of the only things that was missing was the proper production. The music is no longer as trebly as one remembers it on previous cds, everything is more rounded and smoother, but still as aggressive as ever.
The most common comparisons to this band are often Marduk and Gorgoroth. I think these are fair enough, since Endstille reminds quite nicely of Gorgoroths years with Pest, and Marduks earlier riffing style. There is still a nice unique sound to Endstille, probably derived mainly from the phrasing of the vocals, which are a pretty spaced out, with phrases often having several seconds between one another in the verses. The guitars also blend a lot better, probably due to the fact that one guitarist has to cover the lines live, so there is usually only a harmony or over-dub to the main guitar part, but rarely ever an independent line. It should also be noted that for all purposes the guitars might as well only have the three lowest strings on them, since there are no melody lines in this music, and definitely no lead work.
So this sounds pretty average so far, what with Gorgoroth and Marduk comparisons and fairly basic guitar work. But this album has more intensity than any previous albums, with powerful vocals, precise drumming, and heavy bass lines, and tight guitar work. The band works well to create an atmosphere of being surrounded by chaos and destruction, and the war imagery and themes (*though they are not political*) are also well represented in the music and lyrics. The band doesn't ever let up with any breaks on this album, no isolated guitar riffs, no drum breaks, just a consistent assault. So it still sounds like this might be a bit dull with little variation and a monotone style, so allow me to explain the music in a more detailed manor.
The guitar is some of the most interesting tremolo based riffing I have heard in black metal. It's not based on half steps like most black metal is, but rather on a balance between harmony and dissonance. There are no out of key notes, but at the same time, the harmonies do clash with one another since notes besides the implied chords triad are used. Basically, in less technical terms, the guitars have a great pattern of slightly clashing and then pleasingly (though almost not noticeably) resolving into a more comfortable harmony. The drumming also doesn't just blast away as fast as possible (which is quite annoying, see Marduk's Panzer Division Marduk for details) but uses basic snare and hi-hat patterns while using the bass drum to lock in with the bass and guitar. There are still blast beats, but they are at mid paced tempos, and do not fall into the "norsecore" category.
The second half of the album is where the intensity of the vocals also picks up to a very enjoyable level. With "No Heaven Over Germany" the vocals assume much more prominent part in the music, with a fuller sound. Somehow the first has vocals that are a bit too random for me, they are almost too spread out over the music, which makes the structure hard to hear. The second half of the album somehow feels more comfortable with the vocals employed more effectively. The lyrical themes have to do with war (as one can infer from the cover), anti-christianity, and the bands personally philosophies. I recommend picking up the CD not just mp3s since the booklets usually contain some lyrics and interesting war photographs (WWI and WWII). It is also generally recommended by me to listen to this CD over shitty mp3 quality which is 320 kbps at best, unless you have a loseless mp3 converter. Good sound quality really makes a difference here, as opposed to most black metal which has poor production to begin with.
ENDSTILLE's music has been colorfully described as "aggressive Black Metal with the fire-speed of a MG42 and the power of heavy ship-artillery". I would say that this is a fairly accurate depiction, considering their numerous anthems to World War 2 imagery, heavy weaponry, and merciless Black Metal assaults, which has often led to wrongful accusations of nazi-sympathies.
As ENDSTILLE aren't the kind of band that strays too far from their roots, their ever-growing fan-base knows what to expect from "Endstilles Reich", which is the quartets fifth studio album. The album opens with a fierce scream that pierces the nightly silence, and suddenly you're thrown into a battlefield with flak- and machine-gun fire flying all around you with unmatched fervor. The screams of vocalist Iblis are as vicious and hateful as ever, the riffs still sound somewhat like a more brutal version of earlier GORGOROTH, and the drums are like a gruesome battery of death.
If it's true that music inspires violence, ENDSTILLE should be considered extremely dangerous. The pounding rhythm of "Vorwärts!" ("Forward") encourages total annihilation of any given enemy, while "The One I Hate" is an intense monument to scorn and contempt. Everything is performed at a break-neck pace, and there is little cover for the all-encompassing hail of bullets. In addition to the aforementioned tracks, the album is full of nice highlights, from the somewhat melodic title-track, to the bitter vengefulness of "Scars".
Fans of ENDSTILLE's signature musical warfare will not be disappointed with this ferocious release, which definitely ranks amongst their best to date. Everything from the malevolent vocals to the rapid artillery fire is sounding top-notch, with an brutal edge that destroys many lesser bands. Thus, "Endstilles Reich" is a solid albeit somewhat generic release from one of the primers of German Black Metal, and thankfully their battleship doesn't look like it's about to be defeated anytime soon.
(Online February 13, 2008)
Written for the Metal Observer
Even though they have not been around for such an incredibly long time, â€œEndstilles Reichâ€ is already the fifth full-length release by Germanyâ€™s Endstille. 2005 saw the release of Endstilleâ€™s â€œNavigatorâ€ album, which left a lot of people hungry for more and now, after the band switched over to Regain Records, it is up to their new album to satisfy the hunger of the faithful and to convince the non-believers.
If you have heard any of Endstilleâ€™s previous albums, you will most likely know what to expect from these German military fanatics. They play a very nice style of war-tinged black metal that is extremely relentless and bleak and that will have you beg for mercy in a matter of seconds. Think tanks, machineguns, lots of casualties, and of course lots of blasting. The guitar work consists mainly of tremolo picking styles and is rather melodic most of the times, which provides a nice contrast with the pounding drums. The drumming in itself is not particularly interesting or groundbreaking, but the sound is nice and organic rather than computerised and that makes this album a lot more listenable than some other black metal releases out there. Sadly enough the bass is drowned beneath the other instruments most of the time, but it does shine through every now and again. The vocals here are incredibly shrill and fit the music quite well, moulding the album into a tight whole.
There may not be that much variation on the album since it is mainly blasting forward like a Sherman tank that lost its driver, there is still something to this album that makes it stick out amongst a heap of other bands that attempt to bring the same style. Be it a certain sense of depth or the fact that it is an all-round grabbing release, the point ought to be clear: this is an album that cannot really go wrong. All the ingredients are there and, though it is nothing incredibly new and refreshing, the conclusion remains that this album just works!