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Kerker > A Dime for the Bleak Faces > Reviews
Kerker - A Dime for the Bleak Faces

There's good news and bad news - 70%

Colonel Para Bellum, January 31st, 2020
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nihilistische KlangKunst (Limited edition, Digipak)

Psychologists teach that first you need to present good news, and then bad news. So, the good news is that the third song "Sighisoara Winter" makes a really incredible impact. Slow parts alternate here with fast ones and, respectively, remarkable gloomy riffs, escalating the nervousness of the atmosphere, are aligned with unusual and abstract fast riffs, which are also very interesting. When the pretty avant-garde keyboards join this crazy ritual, and the vocalist begins to groan with a clear voice, some unique atmosphere is created. What's interesting is that it has something in common with a spirit of old black-and-white movies, be more exact, films noir. For that matter, such music is more characteristic of French bands performing experimental black metal, but this does not detract from the merits of Kerker. The final arrangement of "Sighisoara Winter" with the keyboards is simply incomparable: an unbearable, depressive atmosphere is in turn now.

The fourth song "Prague" is built in the same experimental spirit: abstract music, the avant-garde keyboards, otherworldly murmurs and desperate howls. Oh, and black metal, of course. A very piercing song, if only the piano adaptation in the finale is just going too far. Nevertheless: bravo!

Well, after two such outstanding symphonies, it may seem that the preceding two tracks "Dethronement of Old Kings" and "A Dime for the Bleak Faces" are a kind of preparation for the listener and at the same time a deception: when he / she no longer expects anything unusual, putting up with ordinary – not bad at all, but typical, no doubt – black metal, he / she is dumbfounded by a kind of experimental music. That's a good trick!

Alas for those who impatiently begins to listen further: the miracles end there, the remaining three songs do not contain anything extraordinary. For the first little while, something original may still seem in the fifth song "Douleur oblige", but then it becomes clear that it's just inertia and self-hypnosis work in this way. The somewhat abstract fingerpicking in the sixth song "Nocturnal Empire" at 2:39 is already regarded as a mere pittance to frustrated expectations. The result is disappointment. So this is bad news.

In general, this is a sad story about how wonderful material can negate all the advantages of a good material. Without the two songs noted above, "A Dime for the Bleak Faces" would be perceived as a very good black metal album. Mostly high-speed black metal with a wild blast beat, but there are also slow episodes, in which the vocals are even more (than at the fast parts) reminiscent of the vocals of early Immortal. Recording and mixing are good, although at first there is a feeling that the sound of snare and kick drums was made louder than the guitar sound, but eventually this feeling disappears.

Although there is no originality in this material (to be honest), and all the songs are built on the same principle, this drawback is brightened up by the rather obvious penetration of the riffs, their ability to monotonously drill the "gray surrounding reality". It's pleasant to listen to such music sometimes. But "Sighisoara Winter" and "Prague" set the bar high, they gave the listener a feeling of a fundamentally different world. The banality of the rest of the songs left this world unattainable.

It remains only to add that the somewhat avant-garde cover art is more suited to these two amazing songs than to the entire album.