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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.