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Heidenreich was a project of Peter K (Abigor), which produced two albums in the late 90s and understandably met with little success. The first of these, A Death Gate Cycle must have sounded interesting on paper, and I do enjoy the symphonic/industrial infusion into the sound, but the black metal itself is rather unfortunate, with weak riffing that one could cut and paste from any other forgettable melodic black album of the period.
There are some moments where this mediocrity is completely avoided, like the orchestral piece "The Prophet's Sacrifice", the brief haunted castle pianos of "Todeswunsch", and the freakish battle samples and guitar strangling of "Memories of a Descending Moon". When "Frozen Tears" breaks from its black spasmic riffing to its more experimental electronics and the dulcet tones of the synth and gloomy male vocals, it starts to get interesting. But I derived no enjoyment from the title track or the caustic ribbing of "The Goat Shrine".
The album is mercifully short at 27 minutes, so it's not as if it was meant to bore you through its meagre compositions. Joining PK for this project were two former Abigor members, Thurisaz on vocals and his wife Lucia on keyboards. Experimentation can be a good thing, and the following album Trance of An Unholy Union was superior to this debut (though still suffered occasionally through its own riffing). Not recommended unless you are dead set on your curiosities for the side projects of the Austrian greats (Abigor, Summoning, etc).
Highlights: not really, maybe "The Prophet's Sacrifice"
Heidenreich is a side project by members of Abigor and features a sort of avant-garde black metal with electronic influences and dark sounds. Abigor already did something similar in sounds, especially if we go back to the last efforts. The two members at the instruments on this album know this genre very well and with this short but extremely obscure effort they achieve the goal of creating a sort of occult scenario that surrounds us. So, we begin with the introduction to the title track with strange sounds and vocals. When the music begins I’m a bit shocked and not in a complete good way. Ok, the atmospheres are quite good and truly obscure, as I said, but on the other hand, the production is not a great one.
The sound by the instruments is melted down together and quite chaotic. The guitars and the drums are far more audible during the mid-paced sections that are really out of the blue, while the fast parts are too loud and disordered. The choice of utilizing a sort of electronic drumming is questionable but the genre requires it. The rawness and purity of the black metal clash with the electronic elements and the doom, dark and obsessive atmospheres to create incredibly obscure tracks. The vocals are shrieky and quite cold, while some breaks feature also a sort of ceremonial choirs with clean vocals. “The Prophet's Sacrifice” has a massive employ of the keyboards inside and it’s mostly mid-paced to prefer the atmosphere of pure decadence and occultism.
This band is very good at these mid-paced progressions and surely it’s more convincing than on the fast parts. Let’s check for example the first minutes to “Frozen Tears” song. The atmospheres are mostly created by the keyboards and the often present clean choirs are really creepy and cold. A sort of artificial and occult atmosphere invades my room and it’s like being surrounded by an occult mystification. Thrown in an unknown world where everything is truly bleak and creepy, this is the feeling that this album transmits to me. Even if we look and the pure, sheer technical level we cannot be astonished, the band always manages to carry on great atmospheres. After a long mid-paced song with few furious restarts, it’s time for the piano notes in “Todeswunsch” to make us relax a bit even if the occultism is always present, even during the more melodic overtures.
“The Goat Shrine” has inside a bigger quantity of black metal elements while the keyboards create always gloom sounds in the background that can vary from a sort of plastic, artificial and obsessive drumming to long notes in order to create a desolate landscape. Some more filtrated vocal parts are in contraposition with the black metal ones by the furious guitars and the cold, synthetic drumming. “Memories Of A Descending Moon” has sounds from a battles with clashes of swords and screams with the long notes by a lead guitar. Then, the spoken voice enters and the whole song remains a sort of an ambient one with dreaming notes by the end. Shocking.
If the black metal parts on this short album are more chaotic, we cannot complain about the atmospheric ones. They are creepy, artificial, satanic, occult and dreary. A synthetic and dark atmosphere always flies over these compositions and the freaks of this genre could go and buy it without reflecting even a bit. Surely this is one of the darkest outputs I’ve ever listened to.