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. . . And Shall Find Me Unafraid - 86%

Five_Nails, February 13th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Die Neue Runde (Limited edition, CD-R)

A fresh and ornate reinvigoration of the cover of 'Fragmente III: Fassungen' announces another deep dive into this enchanting EP series. “Cat Steps” almost silently brush the ear before mulling over a mournful melody accompanied by cello and singing in “Im morgen-taun”. The charm of 'Fragmente IV: Abraxas' emanates from a more mystical mindset as this album embarks on a journey that transcends the mortal coil in romantic fashion. “Runde wolke treibt im blauen” floats by like wisps of cumulus clouds across an azure expanse, the last view to stimulate dying eyes as life pours from mortal wounds. Through this piece comes a vocal delivered with the ache of dying breaths and an urgency uplifted by distant string plucking, what could easily pass as harpsichord but is most likely guitar, as life slips away. The dance of swords, an ambush brought on by “Cat Steps” into a morning assault, ends with this hapless fighter's otherworldly gaze as 'Fragmente IV: Abraxas' plunges the knife deep into the heart and the blood dribbles through the soil to soak into the underworld.

Fearlessly floating down the river Styx to meet the horrors of the next life, Sagittarius asserts its independence in spite of the terrifying trials that lie ahead for “under the bludgeonings of chance, my head is bloody, but unbowed.” The piano takes a turn into an airy Greco-Roman melody while marching double-time into a violent and furious fate. Embracing the poetry through vocal harmony, Marcel P. and Herr Twiggs recite “Invictus” to a martial piano movement. This provides a perfect accompaniment to the reading of the titular poem by William Ernest Henley. The two different voices speaking the stanzas remind me of the presentation of Cryptopsy in “The Pestilence that Walketh in Darkness (Psalm 91:5-8)”, albeit the Cryptopsy piece is far more abrasive and guttural. The combined voices, so strongly supplying the final lines, make for a uniform and unfettered affirmation of the assertions in the poem, showing that single-minded strength can be believed even when borne in such a dulcet form. When delivered with utmost conviction, the intensity burning behind one's eyes becomes ingrained in the art.

“It matters not how strait the gait,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

“Rites of Love” rounds out this release with a funerary march that solemnly closes this most violent and intense chapter of the 'Fragment' series. As Waldner has built a unit around himself, he has also descended from the moonlit ivory tower into the festive tavern. Now he, that tavern, and the village in which it stands have fallen into Hades by way of a bloodthirsty blade. The influence of the classics has become most apparent as the scar from the previous year's deep cuts has been reopened, the flesh and blood becoming an offering for entry into a classical metaphysical realm.