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A very shadowy and bleak ride into an insane noise maelstrom - 77%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, June 11th, 2019

Debut recording by mystery German BM horde Qualm, "Tiefe" (meaning "depth" in English) is a shrill and often terrifying ride into hell - an inner hell perhaps, or the hell that has come about through humanity's own stupidity, violence and repression. As the album blurb says, "Tiefe" details a bleak and hopeless downward spiral into nothingness and death - yet through that journey, we can come to know something about ourselves and our place in the universe.

The production on this album renders it shadowy and dark, darker than the music has any right to be, and the quivering tremolo guitars have the quality of dense clouds of millions of insects hovering overhead and waiting in a brooding manner for the moment to strike their victim. Background synthesiser wash adds a nightmarish aspect to the proceedings and those howling, screaming vocals don't reassure listeners very much either. The percussion is lightweight for such demonic music but with such a huge onslaught of ghoulish voices, a constant battery of bristly waspish guitars and bass, and an atmosphere of intense hellishness that amplifies the guitar noise, the drumming perhaps should stay in the distance and not overpower the endlessly mutating evil.

Though the album is divided into seven tracks, these are all best heard as one continuous work for that full-on overwhelming and near-suffocating experience of sheer mental wipe-out. Without doubt the best part of the music is the churning guitar noise and the screeching that merges with it and goes in and out, like an unholy coupling of demons forming one body and then splitting into two or more in less than a second, and merging into one again. The middle tracks especially race away full berserk speed ahead, drums churning and banging the whole time, the ghost voices howling, banshee guitars shrieking in long high-pitched drones in an eternal storm. Sometimes, as at the beginning of Track 5 "Ein Licht uber der Tiefe", there is a slight pause as if for rest before the maelstrom starts up again, this time to escalate (or descend, depending on your point of view) into another more intense level of demented insanity.

I suppose the album could have been shorter and more intense - just over 35 minutes' worth of deranged music can get a bit annoying and tedious - or perhaps there could have been quiet moments where listeners can contemplate the sheer level of desperation and hopelessness the music has brought them to before it takes them down further into the abyss. The harsh, raw texture of the music is very good and the quality of sound and the shady level of production suit the immersive aims of the music perfectly. Probably "Tiefe" overstays its welcome in parts but other listeners may disagree.