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I was surprised to discover that Total Negation’s sole member, Wiedergaenger, is also a member of the German depressive black metal band Through The Pain, whom I have only had the opportunity of hearing on one sole occasion, which was on the split with notoriously Czech legends Trist. With Trist being a modern day hero of the depressive sub-genre, almost single handily dragging it off its knees, it would have been hard for Through The Pain to surpass the qualities of Trist, who wasn’t even at the top of his game on the ‘Black Veils’ split. So, levels of apprehension were high coming into this debut full-length having felt that Through The Pain were totally generic in regards to the material of the split. This full-length is even closely related to the Trist material, though with a greater sense of cleanliness in the production. Though Total Negation don’t sound obviously like anyone else, they do sound subtly like a lot of bands, including giants like Todeskult and Nyktalgia in terms of the light percussion section which tingles its way down the spine and into the blood flow. As of yet, I haven’t heard the debut full-length from the depressive band, but I do aim to hear it soon. Considering the leaps and bounds that Wiedergaenger has made on this sole effort, I am actually feeling positive about the prospect of hearing the Through The Pain debut.
After initially hearing this record, entitled ‘Zeitenwende’, I found myself praising the bass that is applied to the structures which go beyond the boundaries of typical depressive bands and their generally straight-forward methods of repetitive instrumentation. Low and below, Wiedergaenger actually provides the bass for Through The Pain, a fact I was unaware of at the time of hearing this unusual inclusion into a field considered void of creativity and talent. Though the majority have come to call Total Negation depressive black metal, Wiedergaenger has implemented a sense of individuality to his detailed songs that makes me believe that this band also touch upon other notable sub-genres like atmospheric black metal, especially in regards to the cleaner instrumentation provided on songs like ‘Widerstand’, a harmonious number which highlights, in a sparse nature, the excellence of the enigmatic bass which has a license to roam free amongst the wilderness of the soundscapes. I am pleased with the production of this effort. As I recall, the production on ‘Black Veils’ limited the appeal of the bass, which was lost behind a wall of distortion, which was never going to give way to the abilities of Wiedergaenger.
There was nothing particularly inspiring about the Through The Pain portrayal of the depressive scene. It was a largely repetitive fair which, as previously stated, limited the presence of the bass and in its absence, there was nothing to fill the void left behind. Thankfully, on this majestic effort, Wiedergaenger has imposed his inspired tactical approach which sees a vastly better layered structure that lays down the importance of the bass immediately. From beginning to end, the bass is imposed upon the soundscapes with surprising affects. Generally speaking, the bass provides a more emotive aspect to a bands style and given that this is a depressive band, whom rely on heightened emotions to depict the crushing lyrical themes of despair, desolation and pessimism, the bass is able to provide a highlighted emotive section. Not only that, but this subtle force works wonders alongside the other areas of instrumentation, particularly the clean guitars. The vocals, which come in the form of agonising screams, are much better than portrayed on Wiedergaenger’s other band. Having not heard the debut demo, I cannot compare the older style of Total Negation to this style, though I would assume the attempts are fairly similar given the reviews for the demo suggest it is “hypnotic” and usually “slow paced”, as it is here.
There are faster sections of instrumentation, particularly in relation to the percussion and double bass blasts, but songs like ‘Fortbestand’ show a more varied layered approach by adjusting the tempos with which Total Negation are prepared to venture into. From slow, to mid paced and occasionally fast, Wiedergaenger shows that he is capable of playing at a varying degree of tempos and is well equipped at providing a sense of creativity and dynamism which is lacking in a lot of depressive bands across the globe, though I would like to be able to feel the keyboards a little more. I’m not even entirely sure if Wiedergaenger uses keyboards on this effort. It would seem not, though keyboards are listed as an instrument he uses. A lot of the ambiance seems to be drawn out of its shell by the guitar effects. Since Germany is already held in high esteem for their depressive influence, bands like Total Negation will only further the advancement of the sub-genre in this nation and, potentially, worldwide since Wiedergaenger is a more than capable musician and dominating a scene. Though there are the odd bursts of repetition, the production isn’t flat and doesn’t give Total Negation a bland sense of being. The soundscapes are bombastic and fresh sounding because the production is lighter than what we’d normally expect from this field. The obvious highlight is the self-titled song which contains a very impressive clean section with an overriding hypnotic vibe.