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The Path Is Widening Between Nerrath & His Peers. - 90%

Perplexed_Sjel, December 20th, 2009

Once again, the well documented German scene is pushing itself to the front of the queue in regards to which country we listeners view as the most important to black metal underground and its many attached sub-genres. Niklas Thiele, or Nerrath as he prefers to be known as, is a musician who is climbing the ladder of success in the black metal field, and also in some related sub-genres, like the spin-off of blackened funeral doom. His success isn’t down to fortunate circumstances such as his competitors, like France and the Scandinavian countries, failing to live up to standards set down by generations long since gone, but never forgotten. His success is down to his own personal fortitude and will to succeed through creating subtly diverse bands which are shaping the way in which we fans view the modern scene and how it should be run. Bands like Horn, and even this band, Licht Erlischt…, provide concrete evidence that the scene isn’t struggling to get itself out of bed and find the motivation to turn its life around. In actual fact, the grassroots material is as close to perfection as it has ever been.

Nerrath doesn’t do much that hasn’t already been covered to death by his peers, but what he does do is navigate around the “by-the-numbers” characteristics that some bands run into trouble with. Nowadays, black metal has a number of very important distinctions within its ranks. First and foremost we have the genuine innovators who like to think of themselves as improving the traditions by erasing them with a rubber and drawing something entirely new on the blank canvas which has been left over. The void is hard to fill. A number of fans are still swept up in romanticised visions of what the second wave was like, despite the fact that a lot of us are relatively new to the scene (being drawn to it only over the last decade, or so). This romantic vision of what it was like to be a black metal musician in the early 90’s has had consumers doubting the current state of affairs, but when you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that the roots of black metal and its sub-genres are still as strong as ever, if not stronger with musicians like Nerrath implementing that little source of innovation into his often nature inspired rituals.

Though Nerrath doesn’t exclusively adhere to nature based themes on this occasion, with the impressive Licht Erlischt…, there are some similarities in sound to Horn, his main project, and this makes me believe that there might be some underlying features which take direct inspiration from mother nature herself. There is a clear divide, as there has always been. I mentioned the “by-the-numbers” trait which has grossly affected a lot of bands in the past and present. This is a largely traditional style without any innovation, leading me to believe that I’d be better off investing my time in legitimate second wave music, rather than listening to more recycled, generic, rubbish. I supposed this is where hybrids come in handy. Nerrath, for example, is one of the few musicians looking to mix and match genres like a wardrobe full of unique clothing items. He sees one thing he likes and tries to match it with unfamiliar items, causing the eventual movement towards a separate direction from black metal and the formation of blackened funeral doom, or funeral black metal, as this is appropriately described as being.

Licht Erlischt... Are hardly a band for all seasons like Nargaroth’s latest record, but ‘Narrow The Path’ does use similar sounding atmospherics to that of Horn to create a despairing atmosphere, despite how glorious the clean vocals may sound. The lyrical themes seem justified by the sound of the band as they revolve around issues such as human fragility and the fall of mankind itself. The sinking desperation of the lyrics and the overly distorted guitars really provides a distinct feeling of imminent global destruction, either at the hands of nature who is by now sick of how man treats her, like a relationship torn apart both by hatred and love, or perhaps at the hand of man himself as issues like global warming and man’s crimes against his fellow human spring to mind in this evocative and thought provoking semblance of dark atmospherics and sweeping guitar melodies. I consider Horn to be the catchier of the two bands, with Licht Erlischt... slowing down the tempos and focusing more of a repetitive drive, as songs like ‘Radiance’ highlights by taking up a more traditional funeral stance at the beginning of the song.

Nerrath’s vocals are once again a central talking point. He doesn’t use clean vocals as often as he does with Horn, but when he does use them, they’re affective and add a certain flavour to the darkness that shrouds this record in a mysterious aura of distortion and overwhelming melodies. He tends to deviate from his original vocal stance quite often, using rasps, eerie screams, deathly growls and other such vocal techniques. His presence is always felt and his abilities are never questioned. Nerrath has always worked wonders with his song writing abilities. He manages to incorporate seemingly low lying instruments, like the keyboards, and the vocals into a position whereby they subtly become very important, and thus very affective, once the record hits its stride. Songs like ‘The Offshore Oaks’ represent Licht Erlischt... and Nerrath at his very best. Winter based samples, rumbling, emotive guitar leads and those crushing funeral growls before a sense of creativity inflicts itself upon the song. A wonderful debut from another terrific Nerrath project.

Compulsive Dissonance - 71%

reconcile, March 12th, 2009

Melody is a succession of rhythms, often evoking harmonic delight or euphorical empathy, inciting affection and indiscrete emotion. It's a stringent adherence that clings to a particular track like bark on a tree. It wraps itself around the base, thrusts itself upwards and dances around the branches in glee. The tree is embraced by it, withstanding nature and its rather unprecedented array of uncertainties. Music is comprised of countless fragments of melodies, countless arrays of structures and thoughts and instruments, all resulting in audible dissonance. No matter how you view it, music is simply fragmented and recursive. The Narrow Path is, in essence, musically unresolved.

The Narrow Path is the first full length album by Licht Erlischt, a rather obscure black metal band from Norway. After a relatively above average demo and several spurts of wordless disappearances, the album was finally released into the crowd. Much like the demo, The Narrow Path is a melodic overture, gagged and bound in a trunk of lonely and forgotten scales and notes. Instruments without musicians, keys without fingers, a track without the compassion or touch of an artist. The album is completely bound to these melodies, dependent on each and every one to progress the track in directions it would've otherwise completely missed. Now, I love melodies more than anyone. They're quite possibly the most emotive pieces of work that a human being is capable of creating, and rivaled only by visual stimulus. But when an artist centers his structure and form based upon a melodic arrangement of chords, there are certain directions that simply do not work. The Narrow Path epitomizes this direction, taking a melody and wrapping it into a philosophical metamorphosis, shifting and twisting as it inevitably progresses forward. It seems he simply doesn't understand the fact that songs end, that songs are much like our lives. We fade in and fade out, most of our time spent dead or unborn. Within these fleeting moments we're given, we must accomplish all we desire. Not all we're told to, not all we're supposed to, but all we desire to. Radiance, for example, is one of the weaker tracks on the album. Indeed the melody is quite good, but the song simply lacks direction. It builds, it builds, and eventually ends, ends its dismal existence with nothing more than a putter, a tear, and a final melody.

The Narrow Path is far from amateur, and the songs in their entirety are far from weak or vague. Melody, as previously noted, is layered throughout the album. It simply gushes with melancholy. The tracks are long and slow, but the melodies are sweeping and despondent. Nerrath's vocals are Burzum-esque, but not quite as raspy and a bit higher. Rather uninspired, they lack the somber emotion of the rest of the album. In The Offshore Oaks, he even includes clean vocals, and they fit the track perfectly. Mood and atmosphere play an important role for the album, and the melodies just continue to pour down. With more of a structured tone and a bit more thought, this could've been an outstanding release. The Vaultventurer, for example, boasts a very melancholic melody, and Await The Overarching Blow begins amazingly subversive. They both, however, fall into the same stale fragmentation, a lack of direction.

Licht Erlischt's The Narrow Path is far from a terrible album, it's simply lacking in direction. The melodies are mournful, treacherous crawls through rain-drenched streets and coves. They're the philosophical anecdotes of mankind, of existence and time. They tread beaten paths of disappointment and success, unknowingly recreating existence and error. Deceit, sorrow, suffering; all fragments of melody. Composition is the glue that binds these emotive works of being together, entwines the listener into the world they've created. Without them, music is senseless drivel, a scapegoat for existence. A moniker for melodic suicide. A distant, melancholic melody that breathes in the distance, captured and coveted and strung up. Vastness embraces it, reconstructs it, and rewinds it. Why piece together the fragments of melody - beauty, sorrow, despair; the stagnated bits and pieces you never bothered to notice?