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A pleasant surprise. - 78%

VladDeRais, August 4th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Der neue Weg Productions (Limited edition)

There are not too many contemporary black metal bands which can be considered as original and refreshing bands in terms of songwriting but Die Gesellschaft der Grauen Herren (The society of the grey gentleman) prove to be one of them with their first full length record. To put it in layman's terms, their release can be described as a weird mutated baby between Peste Noire and Opeth.

While the lyrical influences are hard to pin point, their themes pertaining to romanticism and nature contain some excellent lyricism - at the same time being accompanied with a varied use of different vocal styles. Their alternation between harsh and clear vocals, occasionally being accompanied with female vocals is truly refreshing, never giving the feeling that the song drags on in respect to their vocals. In addition the harsh vocals are extremely audible, which really deserves to be complimented. All in all, if you are a person who enjoys a varied use of different vocal techniques in black metal, I can only recommend you listening to that record for that reason.

Although the vocals clearly deserve a lot praise, I took some issues with the guitar work throughout the entirety of that record. That being said, I do not want to state that the guitar work is bad by any means. The rhythm guitar conveys a great feeling of coldness and bitterness with their discordant riffs, sometimes taking great creative liberties, for example a funny djent-esque riff on their 5th song "Ascheregen" which is interesting and partially entertaining in a good way. My main point of contention in regards to the rhythm guitar is the tone. For my taste it sounds a tad too thin. A thicker sound for the guitar rhythm would have made it great! My 2nd point of contention is the lead guitar. The band utilizes a lot of twisted and obscure licks throughout the majority of their songs. Mostly it works, sometimes it doesn't. It would not be right to say that the licks and general leads are too much or that they are trying to hard. It can be said that while the ideas are great and I for that matter can appreciate it greatly, the execution is at times a bit sloppy. Don't get me wrong, despite the fact that I may have criticized the guitar work a great deal, those flaws do not take away from the listening pleasure.

To conclude, this record is overall a good record where it is clear that the members put a lot effort and invested a great amount of time in. Despite some flaws in terms of their guitar work, this record is a well made record which I can really recommend when you feel like listening to black metal but at the same time you have the urge to try out something different. I want to end this by saying that I look forward to their next record.