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It’s black metal. Just... black metal. - 72%

TheEndIsNigh, November 9th, 2017

Irrlycht aren't anything special. Look at their entry here on this site, go ahead, I'll wait.

...

You back? Good. Nothing unique or crazy interesting about them or anything. Told ya.

Irrlycht are a German black metal band that want nothing more than to play black metal. Not raw, not war, not ambient, not depressive, not melodic, not industrial, not viking, not symphonic, not gothic, just black metal. And there's nothing wrong with that. It may have sounded like I was about to go into why this band wasn't worth talking about or how mediocre they are. But actually, to be perfectly honest, this little release is just fine. I dig it.

When bands don't try to infuse two or three different other musical styles into one particular style, it can end up being detrimental to their attempts at making themselves stand out among the legions of like-minded black metallers. But then again, so many bands just go hardcore with experimentation, throwing together so many different styles that the resulting sound is muddy and unfocused. Bands that I can think of that can combine styles fantastically are bands like Cradle of Filth, Plebeian Grandstand, Shade Empire, Zeal and Ardor, Blut aus Nord, Deathspell Omega, Eikenskaden, and so on and so forth. But there are COUNTLESS bands that try and try to experiment with the basics of black metal but end up losing what makes black metal, well, black metal.

This of course leads to so many bands not daring to stray from the black forested path paved before us by the Norwegians of the second wave and the thrashers of the first wave. Corpse paint, leather, black-and-white publicity photos, chains and sacrificial knives, blast beats, shrieks, and tremolo'd guitars. Oh yes, pure and simple black metal. And Irrlycht are here to do just that.

Alright, so Irrlycht are five German dudes with beards coming together to make black metal. That's it. It's so painfully evident that these guys are here to just jam it up that it kinda becomes endearing. Here, look at their logo. It's a mess of gnarled black-wood branches, crooked and ugly in its rendition of the word irrlycht. The album art work is just nature enshrined in a schwarze nacht, ensnared in a moonlit choke-hold, and dripping with an sense of evil archaic and oh so brooding. It's what you'd expect of this genre in its most basic form. And yet, there's nothing about either the band's logo or album art that detracts from the overall listening experience. As anyone can tell you, the most important part of any release is it's content, the music itself.

Fortunately, Irrlycht are good at what they do. The riff-work is solid, the atmosphere is spot on, and the production is nice and clear. This self-titled EP is a nice sampler for what the band is capable of in a studio environment, as well as a way of seeing what the band would also improve on with their first full-length, 'Schatten des Gewitters.' While it should be said that that is a far better effort, this EP is still a good primer. The songwriting here is solid overall, if a bit generic. It can certainly get stale with repeated listens, something that should be noted. But stale, in this case, isn't nessecarily bad. It's really a good time that can fall apart over time unless you're crazy into black metal. If this isn't your particular breed of metal, than this might get boring for you quick. Now, speaking as a fan of black metal, I can say that yeah, I enjoyed it then and enjoyed it now. It's solid through and through and I still get a kick out of it, even having listened to it quite a few times already.

What I enjoy the most here, hands down, is the songwriting. Irrlycht are aiming for that grimdark brutality that any black metaller can pick up on, and without embellishing it with additional musical concepts, their stripped down approach kicks the gates down right off the bat. They have that sense of bombast that makes this kind of music sound just a tad more epic than others. Sure, it's no epic doom metal, but there's a kind of confrontational theatrics at play here that just rips. While the songwriting isn't daring or even particularly strong, it's still more serviceable than most bands of the basic black metal formula. There's also enough melody that goes beyond just tritone abuse here. Yes, it is more of the same minor chord tremolo picking here, but that's just black metal, it's how it's supposed to sound. The few clean instrumental parts here help add some variety here, with some clean guitar and even some synths, but it's nothing to mindblowing or shocking original with can kinda be disappointing ultimately, but Irrlycht are able to generate the appropriate atmosphere here with just the basic guitar-bass-drum set-up and it's cohesive and enjoyable for what it is.

Unfortunately, the album doesn't do a lot in terms of pushing limits or having a strong grasp on what can be done with black metal. Irrlycht, like I said, aren't anything really special or groundbreaking. And that, sadly, works against this album in the long run. For the first few listens, it's pretty good, and if you really dig it, it can be a fun little EP to come back to from time to time. But personally, I got kinda tired of it after listening to it over and over again. Obviously, anything can get tiring if that's the case, and with this album, I think that'd be very much the case with most listeners. Irrlycht were on to something this early in their career, and from what I understand and heard from them after this EP, they've certainly improved. They're a good little band, solid in the ways that matter, but nothing so amazing that anyone other than the black metal faithful should check out.