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Krieg - Transient - 90%

cdmolenaar, March 13th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Candlelight Records USA

Many bands make grand boasts about “maturing as artists” or undergoing “artistic evolutions” when their music either remains unchanged or descends into mediocrity. Since their inception in 1995, New Jersey’s Krieg have proven themselves to be adept at incorporating many sounds into a cohesive whole, while never sacrificing their integrity.

From the dissonant, howling blasts of Rise of Imperial Hordes and the demented anguish of The Black House to Blue Miasma’s downer (supposed) swansong and The Isolationist’s rebirthed rage with a newfound sense of nigh-psychedelic melody, each successive album has brought with it a style of its own, yet always anchored in the core Krieg sound.

On Transient, Krieg’s seventh album, the band shows off yet another new facet of their ever-changing style while still harking back to previous entries in their catalog. Anchored by Neil Jameson’s most fantastically angry and deranged vocal performance in years, Transient cuts down on some of the eerie atmospherics of their previous albums (while not getting rid of them completely) in favor of a more immediate, crust-driven sound.

For sure, familiar elements from each of the band’s albums are present. In turn, Transient both channels The Black House at its punky best and the chiming, atmospheric guitars of the more experimental cuts off The Isolationist, though these moments of lushness, more often than not, transition straight into flurries of fast-paced instrumentation punctuated by Jameson’s tortured growls. The album’s title proves apt at describing the ephemeral sound of the album, always moving from sound to sound while still managing to keep a consistent musical identity throughout.

From the opening track onward, it’s immediately clear that the band is at their most primal and vital in years, yet Transient still offers a sophisticated expansion of their core sound with the addition of persistent electronic soundscapes and samples. On the surface, the album is all violence and carnage while below the surface lurks a darker beast, waiting to be unleashed. Krieg have been in touch with the more atmospheric side of black metal since their debut, but Transient shows the band incorporating these elements with newfound purpose, allowing them to assault the listener with visceral thrashing while simultaneously taking the time to whisper litanies of horror right in their ear.

The songwriting here is the real high point of the record. While Krieg never ventures into “soft” territory, it’s moments like the last minute of “Order”, all martial drums and shouted declarations, which show the band’s masterful control over dynamics, a new side of the old Krieg. The crusty violence of “Return Fire” leads straight into “To Speak with Ghosts”, where the pace slows to a crawl and the listener finally has a chance to take a breath from the suffocating riffs when, without warning, the intensity starts to ramp up for the next few minutes before breaking down into a reprisal of the opening riff and the heaviest moment of the album so far.

“Winter”, an Amebix cover and one of the album’s highlights, takes a direction heretofore unheard of in Krieg’s catalog. A quick build on the snare hints at more of Transient’s blackened crust before transforming into a lurching quasi-groove almost like something off the latest Pyrrhon album interspersed with skittering pick scrapes and Jameson’s yells. Thurston Moore may be a douche of the highest order, but it’s undeniable his contributions to Twilight’s most recent effort yielded great results, seen here with a fresh vivacity. Transient brings melody to the forefront, with walls of layered guitars transforming simple chord progressions into beautiful, densely orchestrated harmony.

Unfortunately the album’s so-far brilliant run is abruptly cut short by the interlude “Home.” Opening with a grim sample, the song progresses from minimalist synths to an acoustic guitar plugging away before it just… ends. The guitar appears to be building to something, but it never arrives, instead just fading out to another sample. While there’s nothing offensively bad about the track on its own, sandwiched between two far superior songs, its weaknesses are all too apparent. Fortunately, the album ends on a high note, with the closer “Gospel Hand”, a fitting song to cap off the album. Opening with all the standard conventions of black metal, the track slows down to focus on sprawling guitar arpeggios with a melodic bass line followed by a buildup into a fitting emotional climax to the album.

All told, Transient can be easily characterized as a diverse album capable of working on multiple levels. While certainly the option is present (especially on the first half) for the listener to be bombarded by the brutally primitive physicality of the album, the real power of the album lies in its power to subliminally insinuate a more sinister message into the mind of the listener, its crusty rage belying darker suggestions of hypnotic terror hidden behind waves of raw blackened hatred.

Originally published in different form on the Toilet ov Hell

Freedom Has A Transitory Price - 70%

diogoferreira, September 26th, 2014

Redefining black metal since the mid-1990s, Jameson and his band Krieg – which has a new lineup – have released the seventh full-length titled “Transient”. However, the split format is actually his strongest facet: he has released 18 splits (yes, I counted). “Transient” is also Jameson’s sixth release this year 2014 – a true worker. By the way, Jameson has worked with Thurston Moore in the side-project Twilight – yeah, the same guy who has been mocking black metal.

Drama aside, the brand new “Transient” is the perfect tool to turn the world into ruins with its claustrophobic soundscapes and torturing vocals, which are more evident in the first four tracks. The opener “Order Of The Solitary Road” brings us some old black metal moments, and “Return Fire” takes us into punk orientations that suddenly turn into some sort of atmospheric black metal. Even so, we can find some melodic deliverance in tracks like “Atlas With A Broken Arm” and “Time”, in which the lead guitar overcomes the chaos swarming behind it all. “Winter” is a song that nicely describes that season, not because of the cold but because of its utter bleakness. This track consists mainly of screaming the title like there is no tomorrow alternated with lyrical stanzas. In the middle of the deep semblance of despair and anger, new sceneries are brought by “Walk With Them Unnoticed”, in which we can hear a raw-shoegaze sonority that eventually bursts in a torment of roaring metal accompanied by simple drone effects.

The best of “Transient” lies in the middle, where Jameson overcomes the boundaries of his own sound and twists black metal through his imaginative mind. However, I must state the downside of the homogenous pace that is heard for most of the album, which can be a little bit boring. Nevertheless, “Transient” is a significant opus within the north-American attempt to redefine the bleakest form of music.

Originally written ar

Multifaceted Negativity Abounds - 88%

TheStormIRide, September 2nd, 2014

A mainstay in the US black metal scene, Krieg is one of the longest running active black metal bands in the country. Fronted by N. Jameson (formerly known as Imperial), Krieg’s lineup has been extremely unstable over the years. Currently pressing on as a five piece, N. Jameson is the only current member of the band returning from 2010′s The Isolationist. Despite Krieg nearing twenty years of existence, 2014′s Transient marks only their seventh full length offering, amid a vast catalog of EP’s and splits.

Krieg’s longevity is a testament to the creative force of N. Jameson. Granted the band has had a few down points over the years, but Transient seems to serve as a reminder to those who have happened to forget how truly devastating and disgusting Krieg’s brand of black metal can really be. Moving forward with their sound, N. Jameson stated that the band did not want to stick to the perceived confines of what black metal has become over the years. The result of liberating the band’s writing process resulted in, according to N. James, the band’s most black metal album in a decade.

Transient is a rather overwhelming listen that channels several levels of despair, futility and pure vitriol. Not content to just blast away for album’s play time, this album is varied and textured. Sure, everything on this album certainly sounds like Krieg, but the waxing and waning of moods and tempos will keep you on your toes and will require your focus and attention to not be left behind. “Order of the Solitary Road” starts the album off with cold, blasting drums and discordant riffing before welling into heavy percussion a la Neurosis with a meaty, grooving riff, to boot. Taking their base sound of mid-paced black metal, blasting drums and N. Jameson’s raspy growls and screams, Krieg tweak each track into its own nightmare. Sometimes this is accomplished with elements of post-metal, sometimes with industrialized sequences, sometimes with atmospheric wandering, but it stays dripping with negativity.

Tracks like “Time” and “To Speak With Ghosts” inject a portion of post-black metal, with melodic touches and slower drumming, but both strike back with walls of acerbic riffing swelling to the forefront. “Atlas With a Broken Arm” channels a mid-tempo sound with a trance-inducing yet cacophonous riffs while “Walk With Them Unnoticed” and “Ruin Our Lives” combines slow building atmospheric black metal to the concoction. It sounds like a rather large mix of styles, and it is, yet Krieg is able to keep this from becoming the disjointed cluster that it could have been. True to Krieg’s earlier sounds, this is as angry and miserable as ever; the sound of every negative emotion put to tape.

Transient is a trying listen; perhaps it’s because of all of the negativity imprinted on this recording or it could be the band’s constant shape-shifting throughout. N. Jameson and Krieg have crafted their most powerful release in years, if not their most powerful release in their long history. Despite this being a challenging and trying listen, it is well worth your time to let the miserable hatred wash over your ears. Nearly two decades into the black metal game and Krieg seem to have found their happy place. It just so happens that Krieg’s happy place is aphotic, piteous and wretched.

Written for The Metal Observer.