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Schizophrenia has never sounded this good - 85%

XuL_Excelsi, December 11th, 2009

Mental illness rarely manifests itself in musical form, with behavioural disorders usually affecting speech patterns and causing the occasional fit of rage. This album is that rare example of clinical insanity in aural form, luckily finding its way outside Norway for all our enjoyment.

“Welterwerk” is a bizarre monster to behold, changing shape constantly and assuring you never get too comfortable. This is only barely black metal, but wholly something else entirely. There is no exact genre to put it in so as to prepare you for what you’re about to experience.

Don’t let the Christian ideals of Drottnar lead you to believe they will be tame. This album is absolutely insane! The guitars are immensely fast and disjointed, with palmmuting and tremolo all over the place. The riffs are ridiculously random and off-beat, and yet infectiously catchy. I’ve never heard anything like the guitar-work on “Welterwerk”, clinical and precise in its chaotic essence. The bass is outstanding on every track, some of the fastest and most technical bass around. It’s also quite prominent in spite of its distortion. At times the tremendous speed of the bass almost puts the guitars to shame, and that’s saying a lot. The technicality of the drums is astounding, with aggression and speed to rival any other in extreme metal, and in slow sections, incredible timing with unique tempo’s and off-beat parts.

Overall, the musicianship is exemplary, with all the instruments outdoing each other and yet still flowing harmoniously. The composition is extremely tight, and the songwriting, albeit somewhat strange, is excellent. It takes immense talent to write music like this, so random and erratic, yet still memorable and catchy. The vocals are a cold and furious shriek, spitting and aggressive. This is where Drottnar comes closest to black metal, with definitive high-pitched screams and squeals. What is however unique is the intense delivery, making it evident that willingness and passion won over technique here. Do note the fervent shriek at 6:00 on “Destruction’s Czar”, this is a very talented vocalist, carrying the frenzied music forcefully forward with indomitable rage.

The lyrics are very impressive, despite the obvious Christian influence. These are not praise songs, but rather insightful social commentary, hitting home on many socio-political issues and shining a cold light on mankind’s shortcomings.

The production on “Welterwerk” is terrific. This features wonderful clarity and depth of all instruments, and a cold, clinical feel overall. With many samples and spoken word throughout, this album is varied, and often schizophrenic, with silences erupting into frantic riffery without warning. Definite standout tracks are “Stardom in Darkness”, “Destruction’s Czar” and “Ad Hoc Revolt”, but there are no bad songs on “Welterwerk”, this album is very enjoyable from start to finish.

In conclusion, this is an accomplished effort from extremely talented musicians. Even if you only hear it once-off, it is a curious collection of songs that are bound to invoke very strange emotions. However, it should be avoided if you are prone to fits.

Interesting but flawed - 80%

harvestman, May 19th, 2008

This is one of those albums that sounds better on paper than it actually is. When I first heard about it I was almost foaming at the mouth--sounded like just my thing--i.e., complex and technical black metal that experiments a lot with dissonance. I wasn't exactly disappointed at first. This kind of music usually takes a while to appreciate, and I thought it was just be a matter of time before I was loving it. But this hasn't happened. They deserve a lot of credit for actually coming up with something new. Just wish I liked it better.

The first thing that struck me was their unique sound. I can't think of many bands that sound anything like this--maybe Mayhem on "Grand Declaration" or the Polish band Non Opus Dei. Not many, anyway. They take their experimentation with atonality even further than the vast majority of technical death metal. It's refreshing at first, but quickly becomes stale. There isn't nearly enough variety in there. The riffs are often convoluted and complex, but they start to sound formulaic after a while. They seem to use the same chords over and over. There are some really nice atonal chords in there, not the usual black metal fare at all, and I applaud them for using them, but I think they need to expand their sonic palette a bit.

The musicianship is top-notch. I especially like to hear the bass poking through at times--probably my favorite part of the music. The musicianship far outstrips the compositional abilities of the band, though. They have two guitar parts going at all times, but rarely do they use them in any interesting way. They're harmonized nicely, but doing exactly the same thing for 99% of the album. I expect a little more from my techical metal. This kind of music is hard to pull off, and I think the band are headed in the right direction. They just haven't gotten there yet. Breakthroughs are often like this--a band latches onto a new idea, which they then proceed to beat to death. With a bit of maturity, this band could take their ideas into some really interesting places.

Inventive and strange technical metal! - 84%

Spawnhorde, October 21st, 2006

Odd technical extreme metal band Drottnar have actually been around a hell of a long time for a band with only one full-length to their name. Apparently they began as some sort of folk/melodic black metal and gradually turned into what they are now; technical blackened-death style metal. There are quite a few moments of both black metal and death metal on this CD, but the main oddity present here is the fact that black metal itself is not defined by any means by its technicality. If you go back in the history of the genre, you'll notice that, in fact, technicality (that is, complicated musicality and a penchant for going "all over the place" in terms of scales and time signatures) is completely absent from 99.9% of black metal; instead, black metal usually focuses on drawn-out, repetitive riff phrases with standard drumming (fast, slow or in between).

That having been said, this is essentially modern technical death metal; steady phrases interconnect but without easy transitions; often, jagged spikes of guitar and angular drumming will emerge and play a part in the chaos of it all. The beauty in the inherent chaos of tech. death is what draws a lot of people to the genre itself (curiously, it's really more of a modern development in the metal scene). The same draw is utilized here; harmonic and atonal riffs leap around all over the place offering very little respite to the listener. Stops and starts are frequent and demanding of the listener's attention span. The black metal ideas enter the playing field here during dissonant, typically tremolo-picked riffs interspersed throughout the album, which is really a very good idea considering this hasn't been done (well) by very many bands, if any, at all.

I also greatly appreciate this band's off-kilter image and interesting concepts; from their band picture to their logo to some of the song titles ("Niemand Geht Vorbei" which, translated from German, means "None Shall Pass", "Victor Comrade" and "Destruction's Czar"). They all point to a very secular worldview, despite the band apparently being Christian (trust me, it's not apparent here at all). I guarantee the aim is to play/mock the ideas of Nazism, Communism, etc., which I find pretty darn cool, if I do say so myself. This album is full of surprises ranging from interesting melody to throat-scraping harsh vocals and shouldn't be missed by tech-death fans who don't mind a bit of the black with their chaos.