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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.