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Paysage D'Hiver- Das Tor - 97%

stenchofishtar, March 23rd, 2014

Modern black metal is short of acts who can essentially come close to capturing the essence of what made it so mystical and thrilling, as it was in the early 1990′s, though this recent effort by Swiss one man act Paysage D’Hiver overcomes that.

The best way to describe ‘Das Tor’ structurally would be a cross between the haunting epics of ‘Hvis Lyset Tar Oss’ geared towards the low fidelity ambience and emphasis on repetition of ‘Transilvanian Hunger’, with greater song lengths that in terms of movement are like the foreboding, icy musical landscapes of records such as ‘Moondawn’ and ‘Mirage’ by Klaus Schulze, set to the black metal aesthetic.

In terms of execution, Paysage D’Hiver take strong influence from the Quebecois black metal acts. Guitar is like a more streamlined Sorcier Les Glaces, interweaving frequently with synths to punctuate and add emphasis much like Frozen Shadows do.

The phrasing is at times similar to Russian bands such as Forest and Branikald, but with the melodic and harmonic components separated quite often between different instruments. The mechanistic drum machine is often quite fast paced, much in the Nordic hyperblast style of said band. With the use of highly distorted, static and shrieked vocals, one can think of the extremity of a band like Akitsa.

There’s an overall feeling of nocturnal grandiosity on display that has early Emperor’s sense of romanticism encoded in the hypnosis and minimalism of Burzum’s third and fourth albums. The influence of electronic music plays a role here, a transitory interconnection between each movement.

With its length too, it never at any point manages to be overindulgent or boring. It’s a prime example of black metal as ambient experience, a raw journey into the naturalistic core of wintery earth.

More Wind Samples, Please - 75%

CrimsonFloyd, April 15th, 2013

It's been a while since we've heard from Tobias Möckl's solo project Paysage d’Hiver. From 1998 to 2007 Möckl pumped out nine demos, some of which were atmospheric black metal and some of which were ambient. As the project’s name suggests (translating to either “Winter Landscape” or “Landscape of Winter”) most of these recordings consist of sonic depictions of primal landscapes at the heart of winter.

After a six year hiatus, Paysage d’Hiver returns with a tenth demo, Das Tor. (Though seriously, there should be a limitation on how many releases these black metal bands can pass off as “demos”; if you’ve been around for fifteen years and are still releasing your recordings on tape, they’re not really demos.) Six years away from the project has not led Möckl to change much about Paysage d’Hiver. Anyone who has heard classics like the self-titled and Winterkälte will not be surprised by the content of Das Tor. Das Tor consists of dense yet raw pieces of atmospheric black metal that sprawl across massive expanses of time. Four tracks amount to eighty minutes (though to be accurate, about fifteen minutes of the record is literally just noise, so the songs aren’t quite as long as they initially appear to be).

The primary elements are icy tremolo riffs and archaic synth lines that repeat progressions for extensive periods of time, gradually evolving, though never seriously diverging from their starting points. The drums and bass are muddled and blurry but do lend the record a quality of depth and vastness. The vocals—shrill, high- pitched screeches—are buried deep in the mix. While Das Tor doesn’t have any of the acoustic guitars or classical instruments (i.e. flutes, violins) found on previous records, it does contain some nice lead guitar lines. The slow, psychedelic solo on “Ewig leuchten die Sterne” is arguably the highlight of the entire record.

It’s fair to critique Möckl for complacency. After six years, he hasn't added single new wrinkle to Paysage d’Hiver. While this music is, as usual, powerful and engrossing, it is also conservative. Möckl doesn’t need to reinvent the project with each new album but it would be nice if a few new ideas were brought into the fold. Furthermore, though the songwriting is strong, none of the individual tracks reach the compositional brilliance of classics such as “Welt Aus Eis,” “Gefrorener Atem” or “Winter…”. An even greater issue with this record is the egregious use of wind samples. Around fifteen minutes of Das Tor consists of nothing more than the sound of wind blowing across a clearing, including an eight minute block at the end of the record. A minute or two of field samples can accentuate the overall ambiance of this kind of record, but eight straight minutes of wind is fucking ridiculous.

Predictability and self-indulgence do hurt the overall experience of Das Tor but not too severely. Anyone who was captivated by Möckl’s previous black metal releases will also be enraptured by Das Tor. It’s sort of like a majestic forest that you’ve hiked countless times before. Sure, you’ve seen the most stunning trails, but there’s a beauty to some of the lesser known pathways as well. Even if Das Tor is one of less astounding trails within Paysage d’Hiver, it is still worth exploring.

Originally written for

Monolithic - 100%

hailmarduk666, March 26th, 2013

Paysage d'Hiver is a band that has been gracing the ranks of black metal since the latter half of the 1990's. In an era of bands shedding their raw and under-produced underground albums to sign with the big labels of Nuclear Blast, Century Media and the like, Paysage d'Hiver has never strayed from the blueprints of what has made its music beautiful in it's own way. Wintherr (real name Tobias Möckl) is the mastermind behind this musical curtain. He is the wizard, in a land full of Scarecrows. There are other bands, such as Vinterriket, Coldworld, Gris, etc. that attempt, but cannot fully grasp the notion of ice, desolation, snow-covered wilderness, and the bone-chilling coldness of a winter landscape. He is also well versed in the metaphysical aspects of space. Again, many of the metaphors and adjectives affiliated with winter, can also be attributed to space. For instance, it is cold, unforgiving, empty, and as devoid of life as the Antarctic Desert.

Unfortunately, Wintherr (I love this name because it's a clever conjugation of "winter" and "herr" or mister in German) has been silent. I suppose it is for good reason, and not surprising that his one demo a year (2 years between "Winterkälte" and Schnee / Das Winterreich) trailed off from 2004 to a three year spread, and finally silence. The lack of music production for his Paysage d'Hiver project is, in my opinion, largely the result of him putting his efforts into his other project called Darkspace where he is known as Wroth. Due to the fact that there had been 6+ years of silence from the Paysage d'Hiver front, and my hearing rumblings of a Darkspace IV album in the works, I quickly started researching. It was purely by accident that I read that a new album had been released by his Paysage d'Hiver moniker in February, and I started salivating in my attempts to get it. Well here it is, at long last, "Das Tor".

Vocally, Wintherr has a much broader spectrum of what was found on previous albums. He utilizes not only harsh and high pitched hissing vocals, but also whispers, as seen in both of the 20 minute tracks. In the track "Schlussel", the vocals are more of a hissing whisper, and in "Offenbarung" it is a spoken mumble. This is a style not before seen in a Paysage d'Hiver album, and it should be noted that this is only one of many differences that can be found throughout "Das Tor". Along with the varying styles of vocals used, the production on the guitar is a lot more clean and streamlined. Instead of a hiss in which the actual chord progressions are indiscernible, we have a layered approach that utilized the misty, snow-like tones acting as a backdrop for the more focused and crisper guitar patterns. These multi-layered guitars are coupled with multi-layered synthesizers, where you have the main chord sustained, which again serves almost as a backdrop for the more textured progressions; similar to that of an organ. The type of sample used in the synthesizer is something akin to a mellotron, and makes for a spacey, and crystalline sound. These layers upon layers form an onion that is extremely complex, and shows intense attention to detail in order to properly accentuate each individual instrument and vocal pattern to create a clear picture of a snow covered wilderness.

The production here is not nearly as raw, which allows the finer points of the album to shine through. There are higher degrees of resolution found further in the album, such as the best track "Offenbarung". Not only are there high pitched screams, but whispers, and something somewhere in between. This is probably the best cross section of the entire discography of this band that you will find in a 20 or so minute period. You have everything from back to front, beginning and end, and even smatterings of other projects that all converge into this single 24 minute point in time. Another great example of the complexity of the music is approximately 4 minutes into "Ewig Leuchten Die Sterne" where each individual piece of the puzzle is laid out one by one, when there is a transition from wall of sound to a fading out of the background guitars and the synthesizers which brings a nice meandering chord progression to the forefront, followed by the atmospheric elements progressively becoming more evident, until the listener is once again thrust into the miasma of swirling atmosphere once again.

What is left to be said? This is a beautiful, elegant, and mesmerizing release that commands the attention of the listener for the entire 80 minutes. To be fair, this is the quickest near hour and a half I have ever sat through. This wonderful release was completely worth the 6+ years of waiting. If I would have to wait 6 more for something of this caliber, I would gladly do it. I do warn the reader, and potential listener: beware! This album will entrance you. Do NOT do anything requiring concentration, or operate machinery before the effects this album has on the listener have been properly evaluated.