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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.

(Originally written on Metal Amino, by myself)