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No solace indeed. - 95%

Verifiedhuman, December 28th, 2021

Not having fully recovered my mental health after endeavoring on a 46-minute nihilistic journey, listening to the band's past LP, I decided I'd write an informal review of their arguably best-to-date release that the guys have had. Similarly with the previous album, the Apocalypticists took me a while to digest and comprehend. While receiving this record way better from the first try as opposed to its predecessor, I still found myself stumbling about 3/4 of the path, as the album started to slowly bog down in excessive ambiance. I will touch that matter later in this review. However, despite the minor nuisances (I call it that for the sake of objectivity, the album is almost perfect otherwise) that the record has to offer to the listener, what it also has to offer are the meaningful, comprehensible vocals, the thrilling (in terms of melody and sound) guitar work, and the DRUMS.

No presence of bass guitar was detected during even the closest listen of the album.

If I were to dedicate this whole review to the sole awesomeness of the drum work on the record, it would still arrive short of the true greatness that is contained within it. I mean, right off the start, when the atonal guitar chords and the first drum hits kick in, the listener's attention is instantly captivated by the sinister presence of the creeping dread, and, like a hypnotized animal walking towards its death, urges him to take a step forward, anxiously awaiting what will happen next. This rather rough metaphor crudely summarizes the experience I had during the first time I listened to the War Machine. The drums are the highlight of the long play this time around, as they have been finally brought forward, and the overall sound that they give out is a notch more prominent, as opposed to the album's predecessor. The guitars, on the other hand, have degraded in variety and set back in terms of sound, but without the damage to the album's atmosphere. In fact, I would argue that by decreasing the amount / variety of guitar parts, the album actually won by providing individual character to each song. This was not true for this record's predecessor. It might be subjective, of course, but the lyrics are another area that has also suffered slight decrease in terms of abundance. I do not mean to state that this record's lyrics are of the same level as System of a Down (i.e. kindergarten level), but the decrease in the amount of words is slightly noticeable, but not that the record has lost its message, or the narrative gets interrupted. By the latter I mean the drum work, as it noticeably fills the gaps that would have otherwise been the lyrics.

By the way, did I already state how awesome the drums are on this album? Well, we've just reached the part where the drums give off a truly drum'n'bass-inspired pattern, one that the Prodigy's Liam Howlett would've been proud of. It's just as sudden as a toddler's vomiting impulse (not that it's of same disgust), the beat starts to entrance the listener, and make him want to engage in a raver's dance; "Towards the noumenon" - rumbles the orator, as if he was stating that into the loud-speaker from the stage, ever more inducing the madness of the moshers. It is said that all good things must come to end, and in this case the album has reached the peak of its intensity and has to slowly descend to resolution. However great the record's dynamism might've been up to this point, during the last half of the song called "The Other Death", closer to its end, it stagnates and turns into an ambient, torpid bridge, which also serves as a bridge for the entire album. I'm probably not fully honest as I describe this, because I actually enjoy listening to this part of the LP. The woman's voice (a perfect match for the melody that runs behind) that speaks: "...mysterious sin that has no forgiveness. I have never understood what it could be. Now I understand..." adds to the overall feel of the atmosphere of despair. My criticism is rather aimed at the overlong outro of this song that nevertheless perfectly flows to form the intro of the last song on the record. It is indeed hard for me to objectively judge the album, for I have listened to it way too many times to simply omit the atmosphere, and focus solely on the characteristics of its parts, forget the song structure. Surprisingly, but despite the lyrics that have no trace of the described hereafter, the entrance riff of the last ode sounds like a weak beam of hope in a kingdom of dismal darkness. That being said it is totally destroyed by the ambient outro that sounds a chorus of voices screaming in pain and despair.

There is no formal or informal conclusion to the gloomy opus that has been delivered to us by the War Machine straight from the bowels of the world. I dare say that everyone makes the conclusion individually best they can. Because no matter what one concludes, it is crystal clear that the aftertaste of this truly dark and ambient piece of musical beauty will stay for a while, and the enchanting melodies will urge the casual listener to return to the journey he had once undertaken. Combine that with a gloomy mood on a drizzly Autumn afternoon, and get a perfect match for a thrilling experience of the dark metal art that will leave no one released.

Drumming masterclass - 93%

MikeyC, January 19th, 2019

This band has come a long way in their career. After the well-received debut album Altered States of Divinity, the band took a 9 year break before releasing the second album Enemy of Man. In that period the band members’ other band Mgła had taken off and recorded two albums in that time, both of which have received pretty positive reception. Once Kriegsmaschine came back, it seemed clear that they wanted to differentiate the two bands, and Enemy of Man saw the band move into a more rhythm-centric style of black metal. Now, on their third album Apocalypticists, that style has been upped yet again and I reckon this band is going from strength to strength because of it.

Of course, comparisons to the sister band Mgła are inevitable. The two members here are also in that band, and play a similar style of dissonant black metal. There is a distinct difference between the two bands, though. Mgła’s style is a lot more hard-hitting with crazy blasting permeating the dissonant riffing. Here, the emphasis on groove is ratcheted up, mostly by way of the drumming. Instead of feeling like you’re getting hypnotised by repeated riffs, a trait that Mgła uses and makes them sound good, Kriegsmaschine opts for the intricacies of the music, the subtler side of this style of black metal. You don’t feel like you’re getting rigorously pounded. More like…rigorously massaged. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me?

Like a good massage, the flow of this album is something to behold. Each song has its own identity, but the album as a whole is interconnected and well organised. The 50 minutes fly by, which is a testament to how appealing each track is, and how it all comes together. It has extensive replayability and listening to the album twice back-to-back wouldn’t be exhausting.

I mentioned the drumming being the main instigator of the groovy, rhythmic feeling of the music, but it can’t be emphasised enough. The percussion here has an almost blackened jazz feel to it throughout a lot of the album. With not a blast beat in sight over the album’s 50 minute run-time, drummer Darkside fills that void with amazing cymbal patterns (see “The Pallid Scourge” for wonderful jazz flair on the ride) and lots of tom fills that don’t just accentuate the beat, because they are the beat (“Lost in Liminal”). He also has no problem switching to something straighter, such as “Apocalypticists” and mostly seen in the song “The Other Death,” which is about as close to a blast beat as the album gets, but even then the drumming still has flair to it with its subtle hits and ghost notes in between the snare hits. This shows a great songwriting skill to make each song interesting, versatile, and coherent all in one breath, and the drumming brings this all together in one awesome package. It also shows the chops of Darkside, cultivating his creativity and shows he’s not just a one-trick-blasting-pony.

With the brilliant performance from the drumming, and the fact that Apocalypticists has decided to bring more emphasis on the percussive groove element, it’s obvious that the drumming takes centre stage and the dissonant riffs are relegated to a secondary instrument. That’s not to say the riffs here are sub-standard, or unimportant in the progression of the album. They keep things rolling along with their droning patterns. The opening riff to “Apocalypticists” is quite nice and sets a great mood for the rest of the song. The vocals are the same as what’s presented in Mgła – throaty yells that give the album a harsh quality to it, but still works well in tandem with the music. Lyrically, the band talk about cryptic subjects that appear to have their bases rooted in Nietzscheism, although if anyone can get a better grasp on what the hell they’re talking about, I’m willing to hear it out. What I do know is that it does give the album an extra dimension on its bleakness, which fits the musical motif.

Again, though, the drumming is the main drawcard to this album, and I implore anyone that enjoys intricate and flowing drums in their music to check this out. Kriegsmaschine have evolved quite nicely since their early days and this is a wonderful direction for them to be heading in. One of the best albums of 2018 and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with in the future.