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When I first started listening to Lutemkrat's "The Last Survivor", my expectations were high. For a one man band, the CD packaging and photographs are very crisp and well-done. Combined with the positive feedback I had read about the album, I was excited. However, the moment the acoustic intro started playing through my speakers all I could focus on was how impressive the music WOULD be...if it weren't for the constant irritating squeaks and scrapes heard while Wolf is playing. Granted, this track would be very difficult to pull off perfectly, as the acoustic piece has some impressive musicianship and Lutemkrat is obviously on a budget. I respected this, but at the same time didn't want to listen to a whole album full of minor fuck-ups. The first real track put my fears to rest, though. "Silent Death" will startle any listener not quite prepared for the loud, harsh vocals and furious drum tracks that follow. This aggression delivered right from the start helps yank the audience out of the daze the intro may have induced. Like all the songs on this album, melody is achieved not by Wolf's cold and distant shrieks but mostly by the tremolo-picked guitar leads and time changes. The drum programming is impressive and varied, sounding very little like a machine at all. Despite most tracks clocking in at over 6 minutes, there's enough variation to keep the listener captivated. When some bands aim for long songs, they tend to get repetitive and constantly resort back to the same verse and chorus melodies. Lutemkrat, however, manages to mix things up enough that even the 7+ minute long songs never get tedious. Combined with the occasional slower segments, such as the end of the title track and the impressive acoustic breaks of "Vengeance" and "Journey Through Inner Landscapes", this album really delivers in both the melody and aggression departments.
If I have one criticism for "The Last Survivor", it is that the whole album really blurs together. Though consistently solid, there are no "wow" tracks on this album. The result is a CD that is easy to listen to over and over, but may ultimately be forgotten and most likely won't end up on many "best of" lists. The reverb-soaked vocals of Wolf could use some variation, as could the guitar leads. Tremolo picking is not the only form of black metal riffing. Also, that intro track could really, really, really have used another take.
You can really tell that Lutemkrat is a Brazilian artist as soon as you listen to 'The Last Survivor'. This band's style of melodic, slightly folk and viking influenced black metal is reminiscent of many artists from the same nation, although it is a style that will likely be unfamiliar to many metalheads out there. Lutemkrat possesses many of the rolling, viking-inspired rhythms and organic feel of countrymates Zargof, but with an added flair of cold Scandinavian melody that helps set this music apart from others of similar aim. It doesn't bring a huge amount new to the table, but it is a very solid debut that's certainly worth listening to, and manages to please throughout.
Your average Lutemkrat song is composed of the same general elements: distant programmed drums providing a simple, uptempo rhythmic backing, distorted, breathy vocals soaked in reverb adding to the frosty atmosphere, and two layers of guitars providing long, epic tremolo riffs. The music floats between medium and fast paces, generally alternating between more brisk blasting and double bass sections before dropping back to deliberate, plodding triplets. The lengthy tracks allow each clearly delineated section of music to be layed out clearly before moving on to the next, creating very linear song structures that lack a great deal of repetition. Aiding this also are the occasional clean guitar breaks peppered throughout the album, which are actually placed and played better than normal. Many bands tend to use such a technique in improper locations, but Lutemkrat manages to incorporate them well into the framework of the music as a whole, with clean transfers from electric to acoustic and back again.
Most of the material here is, at least on some level, familiar. While the specific aesthetic is a bit different than most, in the fusion of warm and cold melody and similarly polarized instrumental feel, the music is not stunningly original. The longer tracks do have a tendency to sort of wander off at times, acting as slideshows of riffs more than unified structures. However, at any given moment during 'The Last Survivor', the music you're listening to is quite good. Lutemkrat has a capable grasp of riffcraft and melodic interaction between the omnipresent dual guitar layers, and the overall sound and production has obviously been given a good deal of care. It's an easy album to listen to repeatedly, as you do pick out more and more interesting little riffs and vocal patterns the more you hear it. It never gets tiresome, although most of the songs sound generally the same, and it manages to hold your attention pretty well throughout the whole 46 minute running time.
So if you're into the Brazilian style of melodic black metal, this is most certainly an album to check out. Actually, anyone who enjoys the raw-but-melodic style of BM defined by bands such as Taake would be encouraged to give Lutemkrat at least a look. What it lacks in originality it makes up for in professionalism and craftsmanship, and so for those seeking another quality melodic black metal band in the underground, you can't go wrong with Lutemkrat.
When seeing this album advertised for fans of Nargaroth, Taake and Burzum; I had to check it out as I’m a fan of a lot extreme black metal.
The album’s artist presentation is exact to the title and concept of the album, a wolf struggling through deep snow in the cold finding a new path in existence is portrayed on the cover, and on the back one man Wolf Lutemkrat stands alone looking onward. Reading the lyrics gives you the feeling this person has been through much personal struggle and anguish and since this artist is from Brazil it would only be logical that that’s true and he’s been through much struggle. After reading an interview with the one Wolf Lutemkrat, it was evident that his concepts are truly based upon his personal struggle and all music is inspired by his life experiences and struggles…
The opening track begins with soft acoustic guitars; soft and calming but at the same time you feel a sense of solitude from the music – not long after this intro entitled “Arising”, the calming acoustics end and the next song “Silent Death” begins with pummeling drums, raging guitars and a hostile scream of pain and anger to break the calm soothing effect which was left from the intro, throughout the track those emotions are very present both lyrically and musically.
“The Last Survivor” continues carrying the emotions left from “Silent Death”, the track begins with a very rhythmic guitar line, carried through with a steady drum beat, the sounds through the track giving you a perpetuating feeling of grief and perseverance, almost as if you’ve just had the fight of your life and now you’re on to fight again much harder – the song’s ending is soft and full of despair but not long after this ending begins the next track…
“Vengeance” is the ONLY possible name for a track like this, immediately beginning with raw fast guitar and raging drums with lyrics telling a tale of the battle to end the great war – one line in the lyrics reads “no more feelings, no more hope, only anger, makes them strong. No more, feelings no more hope, only anger, vengeance shall be done!” Nearly halfway through the song, it takes an unexpected turn and softens to acoustic guitars again building suspense for the final minutes, which again lyrically, musically and emotionally are pure rage, the sensation is overwhelming and you begin to feel like you want to take your vengeance on the world as the vocals scream “Now it’s time to kill! Kill everyone!!! All the enemies shall die! Vengeance shall be done!”… As the song ends with amazing structure.
The beginning of the next side of this epic conceptual storyline is just as intense, “Awaiting the Final Breath” starts with sounds that in my mind best portray a sense of emptiness and desolation, and again the music begins this time mixed with the deep cold feelings of loss and emptiness, however the entire structure of the music despite the harshness of it’s bitter cold, the anger which is always present in this release makes you feel as if the only thing is to keep fighting.
“A Journey through Inner Landscapes”, the best description I can give in relevance to the concept is that the track lives up to its name. Beginning with soft classical acoustic guitars before what you think will be again raging fast black metal, actually enters into a mid-paced guitars and a steady drum beat carries on as the story of the struggle continues. Not before long does it slow down with the classical acoustic guitars but this time for another melodic raging riff builds up and the story continues to unfold – this song’s significant place in the storyline is at the end of the battle, the war is over, and the warrior is finding new purpose in life and begins a new journey for survival. Let’s face it, if you’re a warrior and there’s no war, what do you do?
As the track prior to this puts your mind into the thoughts which might be evident during a journey, now the most major comes to mind, you’ve entered the hell of war, fought, watched everyone die, taken your vengeance on enemies and continued to find purpose, but what about all those who fought with you in battle, who stood by you an died for the same cause which you fought and survived?… “Grieving Over the Dead”, one of the most melancholic of the album, full of sorrow, rage, confusion – a profound sense of loss and despair is present through all of this track, yet again the constant anger which is carried through this release is still lingering… and soon the soft acoustics slowly appear through the sorrow and anger, and the electric guitars dissipate slowly allowing entrance for the outro “surviving” – this soft, slow melodic classical acoustic song is the perfect ending for the story with amazing lyrics soft spoken in sorrow “fight for life, fight to survive, fight until death, or be tortured alive” – some of the most powerful words I’ve heard in awhile. The ending is sad, but leaves you wondering what lies ahead for this brave warrior who continues to fight..
After listening to all this, the best I can say for the release is it’s phenomenal! It lives up to it’s title in sound, subject matter, emotion and chronologically – it truly runs through as you’re experiencing his story, you’re in battle with him while you listen to this! If you’re a person who truly gets into music, appreciates an album which you can get literally lost in the music to experience it and you appreciate raging black metal, epic black metal, melancholic black metal; any of the above! You have to give this album a chance, the more you listen to it, the more you appreciate its sentiments and you value it’s presence every time it’s played.
And finally, I must say to Wolf Lutemkrat – I hope this review is somewhat accurate to what you were trying to say in your music, I await your next album! THANK YOU!!!