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Einsamer Winterweg by Wedard remains one of my favourite albums of all time. In just under an hour, Sternenfrost manages to create a multitude of feelings within the listener, allowing his music to absorb the listener in a shroud of melancholy pleasure. The music itself lies somewhere between depressive black metal, shoegaze and dark ambient: the distant, panned guitars create dissonant walls of guitar noise throughout, but reverberated in such a way that they become almost peaceful, carving a true sense of sorrow. The drums seem to have also been recorded at a distance, filling the overlying music with their echoed cymbals, soft snare and heavy bass drum, which serves to move each of the songs in turn, allowing them to progress through an audial storyline before coming to a close. Sternenfrost’s vocals are also some of the most powerful within this subgenre of black metal – a label that I do not wish to attach to Wedard, as it does not do the band justice – echoing around the guitars with sorrowful and depressed harshness and exhibiting a painful insight into Wedard’s feelings and message. Over and around this perfect blend of misery and beauty resonates the keyboard: a simple choral synthesizer that accompanies the guitar throughout most of the album and allows the music to further embed itself into the emotional soul of the listener.
The songs showcase other brilliant and unique touches to them. The title track begins with a basic, yet utterly amazing selection of 3 altered A-minor chords, played somewhere is the distance. The ambience that this intro is brought in with places the listener in a large, dark hall, utterly alone and devoid of happiness. Sternenfrost’s vocals enter at the opposite side of the guitars, whispering dull and depressed words that travel around the large hall, before fading slowly. Another fantastic and innovative technique used here is the second guitar that harmonizes with the first on the introduction of “Winterdepression”: a simplistic touch that amplifies the emotion conveyed by this track. “Leidenschaft” opens with a fantastic and awe-inspiring ambient passage: lead pads accompanied by a bass guitar, melancholic piano and occasional wind-chimes to bring the feelings portrayed on this album to a peak; an utterly beautiful climax of this LP that I doubt anybody would not enjoy. Finally, the rain sound effects and clean guitars that bring the ultimate track into the listener’s ears further showcase Sternenfrost’s understanding of how to write depressive music – these then fade out, and are replaced by the album’s most harrowing piece. “Wandern am Fluss der Zeit” is a truly wondrous track, a blend of shoegaze melodies, subtle keyboard overtones and Sternenfrost’s most tortured - yet restrained – vocal passages yet.
I just can’t fault this album. It’s so perfect in every way, it’s irresistible. I’d recommend buying this at all costs.
As far as I can deduce, ‘Einsamer Winterweg’ is the debut full-length from melancholic German BM act Wedard. But it’s hard to tell with some of these entities that lurk in the nether regions of the underground. Everything else in the back catalogue seems to be either demos, splits or rehashed demos, so here we have something undeniably new…
The CD version of ‘Einsamer Winterweg’ landed this January, courtesy of French label Occultum Productions. Comprising six lengthy odes to solitude and angst, ‘EW’ clocks in at a generous 54 minutes and comes in a beautiful DVD box package. In keeping with the policy of small labels, this one is limited to 500 copies.
From the moment the title track kicks in, it’s blatantly apparent that we are in the realm of the utterly depressed and dejected. ‘Einsamer Winterweg’ is an exercise in funereal BM that plods along with the disinterest and dismay of a razor blade staring out at you pleadingly from a bathroom cabinet. The sound is aptly dull and lo-fi, adding to the overall sense of misery and hopelessness.
A distinct trace of keys drifts over the soul-stripped protestations, creating an emotive mood designed to drag you into the abyss. It succeeds. Like Striborg on downers, Wedard delivers some of the most supremely melancholic, broody and resigned blackness you could hope to hear. The third track ‘Der letzte Tag’ is particularly enchanting and the inclusion of natural sounds such as rainfall and storms is a timely reminder that we’re all fucked one way or another.