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A rich and rewarding album - 85%

Hubster, July 7th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Zeitgeister Music (Limited edition, Digipak)

I've been a huge fan of the Zeitgeister Records guys for years, and have been a fan of Valborg and Klabautamann pretty much since day one. The beauty of all their bands is that they are subtle in what they do. It makes investigating them much much more worthwhile, and bears good fruit if you enjoy details and are patient.

Klabautamann, like most of the bands on the Zeitgeister roster, have gone through style changes as the years have passed. But none of these, at least to me, have been negative. It all has an experimental feel about it, lots of musical exploration, and no stagnance. The musicians on the roster have a deep love and joy of what they do, and it shows.

Smaragd to me is a culmination of Klabautamann's entire discography so far. There are parts which remind me of Der Ort, other parts remind me of a the brilliant "Negeder Mand​/​Tuvstarr" 7" EP (BUY IT if you don't have it!!!), and other parts remind me of fellow Zeigeister band Island's works, then we also veer into Merkur and The Old Chamber territory.

All the while it remains VERY Klabautamann. I can't imagine anyone other than Tim doing vocals, it's just so perfect. Flo does a great job with his guitar and bass playing. The bass tones especially are really clear, nice and rounded, and quite warm. Smaragd has a very warm, earthy tone all up in fact, which to me is a hallmark of Klabautamann's sound. Rich, while not being overproduced.

Under Feral Skies is my fave track on this record. The aggressive riffs take me back to 2007's "Negeder Mand". Under Feral Skies would be brilliant live, absolutely ferocious.

Into My Shadow contains some folky elements, although no (leading) acoustic guitars to drive it, they're lightly there in the background instead. But it's very much a more blues and jazz-influenced song. I almost wish they'd used brushes on the drums here. It would have worked.

The Murderers has a great, deep growl performance by Tim, which takes me back to Merkur's "Stygian", but then in contrast, a clean singing section which is almost a gentle murmur, gliding along with a wind section and soft guitar tones. The album is full of moments like this - contrasts, tonal changes, always dynamic, but not so much jarring. Later on, as if to add to surprise, things get much more aggressive on Enemies Blood, almost symphonic in places.

Smaragd takes time to wade into. There's a lot going on, but not to the point where it requires some kind of philosophical breakdown to interpret. It doesn't break ground, and it's not meant to. It's an album for the metal fan who likes to explore MUSIC as a whole, by musicians who also like to explore music as a whole.

While Merkur and The Old Chamber had their moments, they were in my opinion slightly lesser releases in the Klabautamann catalogue. Smaragd on the other hand brings things back up a notch, and also does it in a more mature and more fully realised fashion.

This is a great, solid release, which gets better with each listen as you pick up more and more details during the ride.