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Dubious Zeitgeist - 74%

Felix 1666, March 14th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Independent (Digipak, Limited edition)

"Anti Terrestrial Black Metal" was among the most promising German black metal debuts of all times. Thus, the bar was set high and Magoth were facing a serious challenge. And I wish it would be different, but to be honest, the dudes were not able to outperform their own first album. "Zeitgeist : Dystopia" can be deemed competitive with the vast majority of the genre releases, but it is not as outstanding as the phenomenal first strike was. Why? Well, the album does not suffer from technical deficiencies. The guys seem to understand their art very well and perform their songs with virtuosity. The production, to highlight another technical issue, is on a par with that of the album's predecessor. "Zeitgeist : Dystopia" boasts with a dense, mighty and pretty strong sound. Only five or ten percent of clarity are missing, but this is a negligible. So it's still a kind of mystery why the album is not able to continue the success story of the newcomers - at least in my humble opinion.

No doubt, Magoth have managed the task to write new great songs that match the style of the debut's compositions. The band saw no reason to readjust its musical vision and I agree absolutely in this respect. But, and here comes the significant change, the hit rate is definitely lower than before. Okay, "The Fate of Resurrection" reanimates the flair of Ancient's expressive debut from 1994, not only in view of its first guitar tones which seem to originate from (Apha-)Zel himself. "Sinister Forces Arose" sounds like a wild, spooky and simply fantastic leftover of their early days. It lies in close proximity to the material of the debut and celebrates black metal in perfection. The song is catchy, but not commercial and furious yet comprehensible. Moreover, its enormous intensity awakens the true spirit of the genre. The similarly designed "Above the Sacred Lands" is also worth mentioning due to its brutal verses and the atmospheric yet powerful instrumental part. Some stoic leads segue into an acoustic intermezzo, but don't be afraid: an explosive outburst, accompanied by an animalistic scream shatters the silence quickly. By the way, maybe the vocals do not embody anything else but the genre-typical way of articulation. Nevertheless, they definitely add value to the album.

Beside these devastating highlights, Magoth show a previously unknown vulnerability to good but somehow pretty average black metal tunes. "Summoning the Apocalypse" is a more than solid song and marks a kind of bridge between the jewels of the album and these tracks that cannot shine with outstanding lines, choruses or other details. Honestly speaking, in particular the last third of the material suffers from the absence of exciting moments. The highly talented band fails to bring its full potential to life and even though the dudes avoid major flaws, it is sad to experience that the album ends in a totally unspectacular manner. The tracks still create a certain mood, but unlike the material of the debut or the aforementioned highlights, they are not able to get the listener under their spell. Anyway, taken for itself, this album is still recommendable, but the next full-length will give certainty whether or not Magoth are able to challenge the global black metal champions from Sweden, Norway or anywhere else.