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Landscapes of the Stormiest Winter - 100%

Kaustab, August 14th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1999, Cassette, Kunsthall Produktionen (Limited edition)

Mother Nature has blessed us with the existence of the four seasons, of which, Winter happens to be the most haunting and unforgiving as it leaves us shivering from an unknown fear. This "fear", as I call it, is nothing but the cold. The cold, which accommodates darkness.

In the midst of a snowstorm, on an unknown and distant mountain, was a traveler: a wanderer, and an admirer of solitude; but he was lost. The abrupt homecoming of the violent storm led to his being lost. He was lost in the most complete sense: he had no idea at all of where he was, or in which direction he might tread forward, not that it would do him any good either, for he could neither see anything, nor hear anything, due to the immense hostility of the blizzard.

Few can even try to comprehend his circumstance and what was going on in his head. Of course, it is a pitiful situation for the hiker; but alas, what can be done about it?

Believe me, if you imagine yourself in this poor treader's position, it will truly leave you haunted; and if you can persevere it closely enough, it would haunt you for days in the form of a never-ending nightmare… To me, this scenario is precisely what the self-titled release of Paysage d'Hiver depicts: being lost, in the frost of Winter…

Paysage d'Hiver - Paysage d'Hiver (1999)

Paysage d'Hiver is one of those things that cannot be readily enjoyed by any one or at any time of the day. It requires perseverance, because one would not normally find anything of much interest in it at first listen. However, should you take the time and open-mindedness, and willingly delve into this amazing release, you will surely be left spellbound by it! Paysage d'Hiver (which, in case you were wondering, translates to "Landscapes of Winter" from French) is the brainchild of Swiss multi-instrumentalist Tobias Möckl, who has interestingly named himself "Wintherr". Being a mastermind from a musical perspective, he seems to be quite literally obsessed with Winter. It is also interesting to note here that Wintherr also plays in Darkspace (another fantastic band). This being said, we can definitely find some similarities between the two. One such, would be the layering of the different tones of the guitars. They are presented in such a way that it seems as the different instruments interact with each other, creating a truly mesmerizing atmosphere.

Paysage d'Hiver is atmospheric black metal in the most extreme form, consisting of extremely low quality of music in it (even by raw BM standards, Paysage d'Hiver is one of the rawest of the bunch). However, it is this lowness of quality, and the rawness of music, that provides the tone to set the perfect atmosphere just as intended by the musician. It is through this raw miasmal sound that we feel exposed to the cold wrath of darkness, entangled within a storm…

Undoubtedly, this release (existing in the form of a demo tape) is the coldest thing I have ever heard, and many will agree with me regarding this point, that this is the coldest release in existence…

All the tracks here are in German, and their lengths average around 18 minutes. Wintherr has once stated that Paysage d'Hiver tells a story, and believe me when I say that it does indeed. This story is written in the "Universal Language" which is music, and this makes everyone able to interpret it's meaning in their own way.

There is this incredible miasma of instrumentation present in the record, right from the beginning to the end, although there are certain "calming" sections within it (hell, there's even a violin being played amongst all this!).

Every bit of this record is very interesting and can create a wonderful atmosphere. I, personally, am mesmerized by the strong power of this music to create an atmosphere like none other. There is so much beauty in the music he plays; and that has gone almost unnoticed by most of the supposed "fans" of the genre. Never before was a band able to induce such a fascinating icy cold feeling and translate the pure coldness of winter into the Universal Language of music as Paysage d’Hiver has been able to do (not just in this release, but also in the countless other amazing stuff he has made)

If you ask me, this (Paysage d'Hiver) is the pinnacle of atmospheric black metal and is the most accurate representation of what the genre can truly achieve. This genre heavily relied on the use of raw production, reverbed drums, and vocals on the background, to achieve the atmosphere as desired. However, it can be arguably said that this sound reached it's creative peak amongst the snowy mountains of the Alps, by the end of the 20th century, in the form of Paysage d'Hiver, whom I have already admired so much.

All facts considered, Paysage d'Hiver is one of the most influential artists when black metal is taken into consideration. This is clearly because the sound he produced was like none other; and almost nobody else had this much potential to create a vivid atmosphere in the mind of the listener like Wintherr did.

This is precisely what atmospheric black metal should sound like, possessing the power to create an enchanting ambience, without very clearly disclosing what is going on in the foreground.

Dead winter days - 87%

Wilytank, February 14th, 2013

Well, winter is back for the season, but not so you'd really notice it around my area with 60 degree Fahrenheit weather on some days. Regardless, the desire to listen to winter themed black metal returns; and among the artists to delve back into, Paysage d'Hiver is the one closest to the top of the pile. I've already expressed my enjoyment for the first two releases in Wintherr's project, but today I turn my attention to Paysage d'Hiver's self-titled release, the most popular release in this discography though probably because it's the easiest to acquire because you can actually buy an mp3 version off of Amazon or iTunes. I'm sure if Steineiche or Schattengang weren't as limited in their distribution, they'd get more praise because when compared to those two, I find the self-titled to be actually weaker. But Paysage d'Hiver is stunning nonetheless.

This release is a lot rawer sounding than anything Paysage d'Hiver has done before, which is saying a lot considering the band's music has been known for being raw as hell. There's more fuzz here which kinda makes it difficult to approach when it's harder to make out the music. There's also less tempo variation; two of the three songs here stay on the same pace for most of their lengths save for a lower tempo break. This would make the songs totally boring save for the fact that Wintherr did include enough riff changes to keep things interesting, the exception being the less varied "Gefrorener Atem" which turns out consequentially to be the weakest of the three songs on the album. I will say one good thing about it though: its slow tempo is a nice break after the faster "Welt Aus Eis" and before "Der Weg".

Tobias Mockl never had any trouble of letting the guitars drive the atmosphere in his music in both Paysage d'Hiver and Darkspace, but the extra keys and other elements do help the atmosphere along yet not overpowering the song. There's no keys in "Welt Aus Eis" until the very end after all other instruments stop playing, so the guitars get to play on as the blizzard they are. What "Welt Aus Eis" does have is a violin that plays a sweet sounding melody over the metal music. Meanwhile, "Der Weg" has the most changes starting off fast before slowing gradually down. It also has the most extra instruments used with acoustic guitars and keyboards played alongside the usual metal instruments. "Gefrorener Atem" also makes use of keyboards, but like the rest of the song they aren't varied enough to be interesting to listen to.

As for the atmosphere itself, yeah the strong winds and blizzard feelings are definitely there. The tone of the music actually isn't as dark as Paysage d'Hiver's first two black metal album, leaving more of a feeling of a broad daylight like being on top of a ski resort mountain on a windy day but no clouds. One bummer I get is that there's no night time atmosphere conjured up on this release due to the lighter tone and consistently faster pace of this album. There's no equivalent of "Der Baummann" or "Moloch" on this album which they could have really used instead of "Gefrorener Atem". There's also no chilling ambient tracks here, but Mockl already blew his ambient load on Die Festung the year before anyway so go there if you want ambient.

Paysage d'Hiver isn't the best Paysage d'Hiver release, but those already into his sort of material can easily get some sort of enjoyment out of this release. If you want to experience Wintherr's true winter metal magic though, you'd do well to seek out Steineiche and Schattengang.

a milestone in minimalism - 100%

brainsmasher, November 13th, 2009

When writing reviews sometimes it feels severely limiting to use mere words to describe a profound and involving media such as music. When is comes to an album like this, words that put this music into perspective are few and far between.

When I first listened to this I was in a small village in western Ireland. I had holed myself up in a 100% pitch black bedroom when I pressed play. From the onset, the world that Wintherr has created on this album began to draw me in. In such an otherworldly manner my aural palate was filled with whirring, buzzing guitar distortion playing rather long and memorable evocative riffs. The repetition of the riffs is key to the atmosphere here. It draws you in more and more in a hypnotic whirring daze. The fidelity of the guitar recording is so misshapen and almost unfamiliar that you begin to fill in the blanks, telling yourself what you are hearing from time to time. The drums are so buried in the mix, that when audible, they are moreso an inferred afterthought. The tempo is more determined by the guitar playing than the drumming. Amidst this web of callous otherworldly hell is a painful ethereal shrieking that is only heard in black metal. The vocals are sparse, and like the drums sometimes meld in with the all involving guitar distortion so much that you cant quite be sure if you're hearing the recording or if your mind is becoming numb.

On a majority of Paysage d'Hiver's songs there is an accompanying yet subtle keyboard heard, often playing the main guitar riff. This is one element that I think draws a parallel to Wintherr's other stupendous band Darkspace. In both Darkspace and Paysage d'Hiver, minimalism is used exactly how it should only be used. Rather than taking on the form of typical music in a way that pleases listeneres with melodies, choruses, tempo changes and lyrics, a vivid atmosphere is formed from codependant and cohesive elements and textures. This I believe is a wonderful testament to the breadth of what we as humans have left to explore with music.

I am tempted to say more about this great great album but I dont want to give away all the details. If it sucks you in and you listen to this album, you are in for an infinity of distance for it to do so.


Beautiful Cold Atmosphere - 95%

PutridWind, October 17th, 2007

Paysage d'Hiver is the solo project of Wintherr, having released 10 demos and 2 splits over the course of the bands very productive career. The releases are extremely limited, almost never on CD format, and can be difficult to find (even in mp3 format). The S/T album is no exception, being limited to 300 copies (although a re-release has just been printed in CD format). It is often hard to compare the works of this band as all I have are tape rips of the releases (the tapes sell out at an insane rate).

The cd is divided into three songs, but if you have the rip that I have you will find the last two songs merged into one due to the nature of where the songs are on the sides of the tape. Anyway, the demo starts out with quick distorted tremolo guitars similar to Darkspace's faster sections (note that Wintherr also plays in Darkspace). The music blasts on for several minutes in a monotonous drone creating a very atmospheric environment. If you are not the type to digest poor production or very long songs (the first being 20 minutes, the second 33) then I would not recommend that you begin your delving into black metal with this cd. What can be found here is remarkable however if you get past the (very fitting) bad production. There are moments of extremely amazing atmosphere, such as the violins in Welt Aus Eis which create a huge contrast between the pounding drum, screeching guitars, and distorted vocals. The violins provide a calm and smoothly melancholic melody that juxtaposes the chaos of the rest of the music. Tempo changes are also employed for maximum effect. Compositionally there are no flaws in the arrangement of the songs.

Paysage d'Hiver translates to winter landscapes, it the music does exactly that. While books may focus on developing characters through text the music here actually develops the imaginary environment through music. If you have heard Burzum's Det Som Engang var (the song), you know what I mean. Excellent balance of synths and guitar/bass/drums/vocals. The music even employs acoustic breaks and then goes back to a section that is totally different without disrupting the flow. It's hard to describe, one must hear it to understand it.

It's hard to find an album that can help stimulate more fantastic thoughts than this album, that is why it essential to approach this cd with the correct mindset. Listening to for musicianship and separate instruments is completely beside the point. The only intent Wintherr's music has it to create a cold atmosphere, and if you allow yourself to try and understand this the album will make a lot more sense. If you are the type of person who looks for technicality and musicianship than I would rate this a 2/5 for you. Half of the music has absolutely no melody that can be hummed or even remembered, but it is all the more beautiful when a melody does enter the music, as it is arranged and composed so effectively. A must have for all fans of Vinterriket, Burzum, and Darkspace.

Burzum's most prodigious Disciple - 99%

bleaklandscape, February 19th, 2006

You cannot imagine how I'm proud to say that I'm Swiss when I see bands like Paysage d'Hiver. This is in my opinion the most effective Black Metal Band of the beginning of this new century.

Don't think that it's common Black Metal, full of hatred and violence, it's far better and intense than that. This guy knows how mixing Atmospheres with the violence of Black Metal. The track of the overture entitled "Welt aus Eis" (World of Ice) is maybe the best Black Metal song that was ever composed. The using of Keyboard is here really intelligent, like by Burzum's best tracks. You feel that the purpose of the keyboard's using is to intensify the atmosphere without destroying the primal guitar melodies.

Even if there are very few melodies in each song, it's not due to a lack of inspiration from its composer in this case, but more by his will of creating a Hypnotic/Initiatic atmosphere which leads to the harmony/osmose with the nature and Elements, like by shamanic rites.

The sound isn't the one of a great production, but that's not a problem at all, you hear immediately that the music is incredibly good, even perfect. The only thing that costs the point of the 100% is the fact that the level of the sound is not exactly the same on all tracks. However, don't think that this is a bad unprofessional release at all. It's a must for all fans of Black Metal who wants to have the impression of being in the woods/nature or to become a part of the universe. Music is here to escape and discover new dimensions, Paysage d'Hiver succeeds in this purpose with this demo. Congratulations to this One Man Band for this masterpiece.

Winter put to music. - 95%

thrässhole, March 15th, 2005

3 tracks, 53 minutes, sheer brilliance. Paysage d’Hiver is one of the most brilliant projects that has risen out of the mass of black metal bands the last couple of years. Never was a band able to induce such an icy cold feeling and translate pure winter into music as Paysage d’Hiver is able to do. This, children, is the epitome of atmospheric black metal. More ambient than black metal in fact, every track lasts more than 16 minutes and is repetitive like hell. The guitar sounds very chilly and cold, and atmospheric instruments like keyboards and violins make the first song “Welt aus Eis” (World of Ice) and unforgettable epic homage to winter, that could appeal to many a penguin and/or polarbear! Acoustic interludes between oceans of heavily distorted guitars, pounding percussion, melodious violins and amazingly eerie screams characterize this song for it’s entire 19 minutes.
Track 2 is even more amazing. A dark upbuilding note starts to have the better of your ears. Various sounds are added to fortify the grim atmosphere. A soft scream, and the guitars and drums are added, after which a mighty scream breaks loose. The dark note sides with the riffs and forms an unforgettable whole: Gefrorener Atem! (Frozen Breath). Much slower than the first song, but on par as far as atmosphere goes. Roughly around the 12th minute the music shifts from black metal to dark ambient. Hovering synths, still with that same dark note, that only last a good 2 minutes, because then the distorted guitar penetrates the whole again.
About a minute later a somewhat hypnotising tune leads us into the next song, being “Der Weg” (The Road). This starts quite fast, with a harsh riff-attack, accompanied by spheric keyboards. Later a piano is added, causing the song to slow down considerably. A melodic guitar takes over, completed by synths and double bass-drumming. An extremely weird combination, but one that works in an inventive (and dare I say it, genious) sort of way. Even later the synths take full control, behind which only snaredrum (which dissapears swiftly) and feedback from the guitar are audible. The tape ends with a single guitar and keyboard, and Wintherr whispering something inaudible ...

Amazing Swiss Black Metal. - 99%

Winterkaelte, August 29th, 2003

Paysage d'Hiver is one of the most amazing Black Metal artists I've heard yet he is not well known outside of eastern Europe.
This was the first demo by Paysage d'Hiver I had received and I have to say it's still my favourite.
Each track lasts nearly 20 minutes and the 3 brilliant tracks are definatley worth it.
Especially opening track "Welt Aus Eis".
Welt Aus Eis opens the album with a fast guitar riff that just erupts from the start with drums down in the background. It is accompanied by plenty of vocal work, and the riffs are constantly changing. Then he introduces the Violins which add to the effect brilliantly. Then he drops the Violins and goes back to the Vocals, Guitars and Drums. He later introduces Female backing vocals to accompany some killer riffs. Which will have you satisfied for quite some time. He suddenly drops everything but really slow Guitar riffs for a few minutes. Then he brings everything back but retains a slow tempo. Then he speeds back up again and adds brilliant violin work and solos.
Welt Aus Eis means "World Out Of Ice" and suits the music perfectly.
The next track (Gerfroner Atem) is very basic with slow Guitar riffs, Vocals, Drums and Ambience the whole way through, yet its stll quite enjoyable.
And finally Der Weg, this track is very hard to discribe and should be best heard itself just like the rest of the album to get a true idea of what it's like.
This Demo truly is one of the greatest demotapes ever and you should try and get it. You shall be amazed by Welt Aus Eis \m/.