without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
To many unexperienced listeners, Wedard might come across as the be-all, end-all of depressive black metal - the epitome of the genre. Purveying some of the unknown, untalked about, taboo emotions; suicide, depression and thereof. Though, in reality this is nothing but another modern 'depressive' black metal act, feeding off of the free advertisement thanks to MySpace and the Internet respectively - but people must come to realize, that there is absolutely nothing new here, this has all been done before, on a much higher standard.
The first thing you'll realize, and I mean the very first thing, is the reverb. Before the music even begins, you can hear the reverb in the studio (bedroom?). The messy atmosphere of the production is also clear. When the music begins we're introduced to Wedard's sound, which is more or less boring DSBM riffs, comprised of improvised, sub-par melodies throughout the entirety of this release. Very few of the melodies are actually enjoyable, failing to actually play in conjunction with the rhythm guitar, playing completely out of place, time and tune. I'm not saying all black metal should confide within the laws of music and chord progressions; but do not stray too far from the logic, otherwise it will - as this release will prove - sound like untuned crap.
The fact that this score isn't terribly bad would suggest that there's a few positive qualitys within. One of which is the drums. Now, I'm not sure if they're programmed or what - I suspect from the sound, the complexity (programming drums is a nightmare) and rhythm that they're authentic. I love the upbeat tempos and beats, especially in Der Weg in das Reich der Kälte. I actually enjoy that song for most parts, the abrupt interlude of clean guitar is terrible. Unsure if Sternenfrost did in fact mean to do this, there's many dead notes and parts where it just falls to pieces... I have no clues as to why this interlude is there, essentially all it's doing is breaking up one long (semi-)enjoyable song into two chunks held together by an unrelated pause.
Another aspect of Eiskrieg that's enjoyable, though to a lesser extent of the drums, is the vocals. There's times where they work and time's that they need work, and when they work they create a fantastic atmosphere of an almost claustrophobic sensation. Perhaps this is my knowledge interfering, but they also come across as very nature-inspired, almost 'free' type of feeling, like watching a bird fly over the trees. Though, at times, they become very weak and heartless, it's clear that Sternenfrost basically could not be fucked doing the vocals, or perhaps it was nighttime, and he didn't want to wake up his parents due to fear of embarrassment? Overall, his shrieks give the album the much-needed depth it craves, though subtracting much of it's 'depressive' factor and replacing it with a free, happy atmosphere as mentioned.
In sum, the musicianship and production need much attention, and the added sounds, interludes and effects really need to be brought down to an absolute minimum. If you're looking to get into DSBM, I guess you could give this a shot - it's not a 'bad' album, by any means, it's just not original, creative and it's all been done at sometime or another.
Tinny, cold, midpaced guitars and anguished shrieks are the soundtracks of those whose lives are lacking in prozac. You know the drill, folks - good ol dsbm. Wedard does very little to change the formula, yet this is by no means a bad thing in the case of this one-man German band. The production is extremely tinny, but very clean. The drumming is plain, possibly a drum machine but it doesn't quite sound like it. Vocals are light and high-pitched, lending the music a familiar dsbm feel while simultaneously giving it a unique edge. Piano and keys add a reminiscent atmosphere to the songs, either as backing sounds or in peaceful intermissions. It's all quite simple and concise, yet the songs show a good amount of variation.
My first thoughts as to describing this album were along the lines of a suicide in an indoor swimming pool. However, as I listened, the image came to me of children in Auschwitz being dragged away from their parents, crying for help, until only their screams echoing from the gas chambers can be heard. While it doesn't necessarily break any new barriers, this demo is damn solid and clocks in at over 25 minutes, and is a fairly sure bet for any lover of the depressive and suicidal.
Germany has given us some excellent depressive BM, such as Wigrid and Nyktalgia, the amazing Luror’s song "Smoke and Stardust " (one of the best BM songs ever, by the way), and even some Kanwulf’s material. Now she offers us a band that, in spite of having just a few years in the scene, has already released two full lengths, two splits and some demos: Wedard.
The 25:40 minutes EP, called “Eiskrieg”, is the only Wedard’s work that I have listened to, but it left me an excellent impression. The production isn’t really the best: the guitar has a very thin tone; the bass, as one should expect from the genre, is buried under the guitar and the drums, almost imperceptible; the drums have a very organic sound, where the preponderant place is taken by the cymbals, so they produce a certain “live” effect, very remaining of Bilskirnir; the voice is somewhat low in the mix and has a lot of reverb, which evokes a strong sensation of distance, very adequate for this style.
I consider that the Sternenfrost’s biggest merit is the exquisite precision with which the rhythmic guitar and the lead guitar complement each other. While the rhythmic guitar, a little low in the mix, plays endlessly those fantastic trance inducing riffs, the main guitar enriches them infinitely with incredible depressive leads, which are the true essence of Wedard. This compositional style reminds me of Wigrid somehow, although Wedard’s songs are usually faster and their leads more varied; the slower parts, which consist always on sad arpeggios accompanied, again, by a depressive lead, do seem directly inspired in Wigrid.
Sternenfrost’s voice is quite original because, instead of sounding like the usual shriek in the Burzum (and of most of the exponents of "suicidal" BM) style, it sounds like a wailing banshee: there are occasions in which it seems that a woman is singing. In a smaller degree, he also uses some guttural growls and a clean voice, which are used for the narrated parts, and even a more traditional BM voice appears from time to time.
Another characteristic of Wedard’s music is that the two songs on this EP (if we consider the first and the last ones as an Intro and an Outro) have a very similar structure: an introduction with a clean guitar — riff(s) — clean, somewhat medieval, guitar with ambient sounds in the background — riff (s) — new pause with a clean guitar — riff. Although this structure could seem monotonous or not very interesting, the songs on “Eiskrieg” have an inexplicable charm that truly capture the listener and sinks him in a very pleasant contemplative state of melancholy.
Besides Wigrid, I find that Sternenfrost was also influenced by Sombre Chemin, mainly in the ambient passages with a clean guitar; yet, in this he is broadly overcome by the French band: while in Sombre Chemin this passages are an organic and indispensable part of the whole, in Wedard they sound somewhat forced, maybe a little out of place.
If Sternenfrost is able to integrate more organically the structures of his songs instead of making them sound like a random collection of (splendid) riffs and clean guitars (like they occasionally sound); and if he’s able to improve a bit in the production department (a little more bass and a higher volume would be greatly appreciated), without a doubt he will be able to place Wedard not only among the most excellent bands of the Depressive Black Metal genre, but of Black Metal in general.
I would recommend this EP to fans of Walknut (the first song has an atmosphere and a riff—because this song consists of a single riff, besides its introduction and its clean guitar brake—very similar to the material of Walknut, mainly to the song "Motherland Ostenvegr"), Wigrid, Sombre Chemin, Drudkh and other bands with a melancholic and contemplative atmosphere.
If the transition between the faster, the slower and the ambient / clean guitar parts had not been so abrupt, this EP would have take a full 80; however, the structural flaws subtract it 10 points, so it takes an 70.