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Endstille bring us their seventh full-length album and the first released under the Season Of Mist banner. As always one can expect a brutal beating to the senses from this German black metal outfit. Infektion 1813 is the name of the album and this is its review.
Endstille have been around for over a decade now and play a type of black metal similar to the more brutal Swedish bands. Comparisons to Dark Funeral and Marduk have been made in the past and it isn’t very surprising given the amount of brutality they display on their songs. Much like the mythical Panzer Division Marduk, Endstille’s albums deal with war and its toll on humanity. They also have anti-religious themes of course but their main focus seems to be the theatre of operations.
From the moment you hit play you understand that these comparisons are true as “Anomie” starts beating you up like a torture session inflicted on a WWII spy caught behind enemy lines. The new vocalist, ex-Nagelfar, begins to spit forth his hateful screams and a subtle clean lead sticks around until the riffs commence to fly around like stray bullets. Much like most black metal, simple tremolo-picked chord progressions serve as massive riffs that create layers upon layers on the song, with the relentless blasting of the drums serving as a massive mortar bombardment. Half a second of peace is all you get before “Trenchgoat” comes in repeating the formula, smacking you down and upholding the infliction of bruises. The formula is simple and the band isn’t afraid to repeat it over and over again, providing for a very aggressive album. There are some parts in this song reminiscent of the more melodic leads of Sacramentum, which is rather unusual given the amount of aggression present, but this provides for some good variations with the chorus riff being a good example.
Although these Germans seem happy enough to play Swedish black metal of the more brutal kind, I can’t help to feel some similarities with a very famous Norwegian entity that goes by the name of 1349. In fact some of the drumming is a bit reminiscent of Frost’s which is great because I happen to love Frost’s drumming abilities and technique. There are some other similarities to 1349 but we’ll come to that in a bit. The inclusion of clean vocals during some choruses also gives a bit more variation to an album that follows such a strict formula as this one. The songs have an ever present military feel throughout them, with an authentic sound of troops marching and tanks crushing the ripped apart bodies from all the shells that fell down on the battlefield.
“When Kathaaria Falls” is another evocative song of the frozen and barren fields of battle, brought by some melodic leads of the Swedish school. A really good song and a standout in the album as it’s one of the songs here that juggles the aggression with the melody better. Another standout is the following crusher “Satanarchie” that repeats the interweaving of melody and aggression like the last song did. The chorus is hateful and unleashes a barrage of double bass that could turn your face into dust, followed by another melodic riff. Fans of the first Sacramentum album will definitely find something to enjoy here, as there are various moments where their typical start-stop riffs and melodies are heard.
Finally some peace and a bit of a slowdown on the album arrives with a sample announcing that “soon everything will be a flame”. But as one would expect the peace is only temporary because the main section before the chorus is again very brutal. This is one of the least aggressive tracks, and if it weren’t for the relentless drumming this could have been a melodic black song very easily. At the expense of repeating myself I’ll say again that Endstille manage to meld together melody and aggression in a good way, and despite having a formulaic songwriting they are able to captivate your attention with their songs. The chorus of “World Aflame” is pretty catchy and the more melodic edge makes it my favourite track on the entire album.
Another beating remains before the final track that again takes some queues from 1349. Remember the “Hellfire” song with its lengthy structure and repeated chord progressions for over ten minutes? Well, pick that track and mix it with Bolt Thrower’s “Through The Ages” from The IVth Crusade album where they keep repeating the names of all the wars until the end of the song. Now substitute the names of wars with names of tyrants, generals and mass murderers. The name “Völkerschlächter” is fitting as it roughly translates as “International Butcher”, and so this song serves as an exposure to all the horrors that those characters have inflicted upon mankind for so long. As its Norwegian cousin this song becomes infectiously contagious and catchy as one can’t let go of it, which shows how great it is given that it only has one riff.
The conclusion is simple, Endstille deliver once again. They prove that over a decade later they’re still alive and kicking, and mind you kicking really hard! This is a good and solid album from a band that’s not very innovative but always keeps their standards when it comes to songwriting. They aren’t releasing the most original black metal album ever, but Infektion 1813 can surely provide for a good time and a brutal beating if that’s what you’re searching. Mind you that it also has some melodies flying around so this might be able to please more than its common share of followers. The album is also a grower and becomes more enticing with increased spins, so keep the tanks rolling and the bullets flying as Endstille are here to stay!
Originally written for and posted at Riff Magazine
The previous Endstille album, Verführer, left me with a favorable impression of the German band's evolution. Taut and refined, there was this uncanny knack for generating a sublime melody against the razor sheen of traditional chords redolent of the Norse and Swedish black metal pantheons. For Infektion 1813, they have continued this tradition, and while there are no songs with quite the same impact as, say, "Of Disorder", there is still quite a wealth of subtlety grafted against the snappy blast work and driving rhythms. Former rasper Iblis has since left the band, but they've brought forward a scene veteran in Zingultus, who many will know from German standards Graupel, Graven, and perhaps most importantly for fronting a few albums by the late, great Nagelfar.
I won't attest that his presence is greater or lesser than that of Iblis, but his vocals bear a more full bodied torment, and he has no problem fitting into the material. Speaking of which, I feel that Infektion 1813 is front loaded with some of its better pieces, the straightaway "Anomie" with its dense threads of torture, tiny pangs of melody infused into the blast; and "Trenchgoat" (ha ha ha), a testament to controlled savagery. Neither offers much variation in its structure, but then, this is not a band who pride themselves on such a strategy. No, they choose to beat you bleary with their centrifuge of snarling force and then allow your imagination to work upon the target rich environment of ambiance created through the sheer repetition and simplistic melody. When it works, as with 3-4 of the tracks here, it creates a hypnotic, lulling effect of abandon.
Endstille is not all monotony, of course, and they mix it up a little by incorporating gang shouts ("The Deepest Place on Earth") and narrative ("Endstille/Völkerschlächter"), not to mention some deeper, driving black grooves via Darkthrone ("Bloody H/The Hurt-Gene"). Lyrically, they seem to explore not only the usual suspects of Satanism and the occult, but also delve into the fascinating majesty and conflict of their country's history. I've always gotten the feeling that the band is smarter than they let on with such simple and predictable songwriting, and I admit I wouldn't mind hearing some more variation the next time out: Infektion 1813 has slightly more range than its predecessor, but I was never quite so mesmerized by the content. Still, they've not put out a bad album, and if you're deeply fused to the underlying ethos of the genre, spiked with just a little something extra, you may well be pleased with its controlled vitriol.