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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.