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The seedling that would become the finest tree - 83%

Captain Grapefruit, May 1st, 2011

Let's begin with the usual sort of disclaimer: Angizia is unique, but not in the standard way that metal bands are, or wish they are. These Austrians have an entirely different musical emphasis than most metal, and as such, are barely on the border of what can be termed 'metal' at all. Read on, and hopefully you'll get a better idea of what I mean.

'Heidebilder' is Angizia's half of their split with Amestigon, and their first proper release. The title means either 'Images of Heather' or 'Heathen Images', and given their particular style it could just as easily be either. I am fairly competent in German, but after accounting for artistic license and some of the subtle differences between German and Austrian, I am not sure which one is most appropriate. It is also possible that this ambiguity was intentional on their part, as much of their lyrical content is very dense (and difficult to translate). Regardless of the title's intent, their music reflects both by being melodic, pastoral, bright, harsh and somber all at once.

While those above adjectives may seem somewhat exclusive, in Angizia's ever-evolving musical story, they are not. In this particular album, the songs are held together by a solid foundation of rock-style drumming, distorted guitar, bass and piano. And here is where Angizia begins to depart from our more standard fare: the piano is the centerpiece of the musical progression. The distorted guitar is often doubling or playing off of the piano for emphasis, but it is low enough in the mix that it adds primarily to the atmosphere and not the overt content. Along with the piano, the focal point of the songs follow the melody, which is often carried by another instrument entirely, such as keyboard, flute, accordion or clean female vocals.

Aside from the instruments, the listener will also immediately notice an overall lack of 'darkness' that is often implicit in extreme metal forms. Major keys are found quite often here, though they are deftly manipulated and worked within and around. Minor themes are explored within a major scale, just as often as major themes are explored within a minor context, which provides for a very subtle and rich harmonic experience. But this is not to say there are no 'metal' elements here. The often tremelo-picked distorted guitar as well as the screaming and howling black-metal style vocals create a strange combination of harsh atmosphere behind the more elegant beauty. The combination is unique and effective, though it takes some getting used to.

Angizia does not forego darkness completely; they see darkness as a specific mood that is used most effectively when other moods are thoroughly explored as well. As such, this EP feels more like a play, or classic literature. Each song has a strong foundation, but also deviates from it and explores different aspects of it. For instance, in Die Blumen Eines Baches (The Flowers of the Stream), the original theme is taken and slowed considerably at the 10:15 mark, which serves to elevate the beautiful, sad and contemplative qualities of the melody while dimishing the earlier wistful elements.

Also keep in mind that as a first release, this is somewhat under-produced. All of the instruments can be heard, though, and all of the important center-points are properly emphasised. Some may find it a tad flat or quiet, but I find it to be honest. There are no tricks, and the music is allowed to speak for itself, which is very well suited to the variety of moods presented here.

So, for the many metal listeners that are looking for creepiness, instrumental prowess, brutality or whatever else, this may not be your cup of tea. However, if you are curious to immerse yourself in a vibrant story of depth and breadth, this unusual band may be right up your alley.