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Black Metal Rediscovered - 98%

AmiralMauth, April 13th, 2014

There are a few really evil black metal albums out there, that evoke such a tumult of negative emotions within me that I simply have to sit back and shut my eyes to deal with them all. It's very hard to say what calls forth these powerful feelings. It's certainly not extreme technicality in music, or even great creativity, because some of these albums--by Sunn O))), Xasthur, and others--are not especially unique or special in any way.

Steineiche is another one of those albums that exudes pure evil and darkness, and I am not sure why. Guitar work is repetitive and so suppressed and distorted that the simplistic riffles muddle themselves into noise. They form a fuzzy, gritty, freezing cold backdrop for vocals that sound like Wintherr is drowning in a bog and has nothing more other than lugubrious chants in a gargled bastard language.

There are times when another guitar part plays arpeggiated progressions in a manner that's nearly reminiscent of Blazebirth Hall. BBH could never be nearly as cold, misanthropic and evil as this masterpiece. Even the percussion is barely audible, though I find this irrelevant. The focus here is the atmosphere created by the walls of guitar noise and the abominable vocals. I'd have no idea what the lyrics were if they weren't published, but they're a masterpiece in themselves. The esotericism and absolute otherwordliness created by the music is completed by the haunting ideas expressed in the absolute poetry Wintherr has produced.

There are a few weak points, though. I found the final two tracks to be rather poor compared to the first two. Still, given that "Der Baummann" is quite an act to follow, I must tempter my criticism of them. They're good, just not when you're in quite as cold of a mood as you're likely to be after listening to the earlier half of this album.

This is what ambient black metal should be: uncomplicated, unobstructed, cold, distorted, hateful, a production of pure solitude and isolation designed to sweep you through the darkened winter forests of an unknowable domain with only the glorious night as your companion.