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Avsked / Schlaflos - 85%

Phuling, February 18th, 2009

The artwork is extremely minimalistic, and the info is close to none. And the same goes for the music, as this is a split of trance-inducing, bleak and minimalistic German black metal.

Avsked (that seems hell-bent on Swedish influences) starts it off with four tracks of long, slow and agonizing music. It feels impossible not to compare it to Swedish acts such as Shining, Silencer and Hypothermia just as well as the psychotic vibe of Lifelover. "Nattliga tankar" would fit in extraordinarily well with the early works of Shining, as both music and vocals sounds as an homage at times. It’s mostly set in such a constant slow beat, which is perfect for sitting curled up in a couch, slowly nodding along as if in a borderline catatonic state. All while the riffing serves a chilling and harsh distortion, and the vocalist spews forth screeches of torture. It is really cold stuff, with a depressive aura surrounding it both musically and sound-wise. Don’t expect an expensive and thick production, as it is distant and cold just like the music it presents. But I did mention Lifelover earlier, and I feel a need to explain why. Avsked is certainly nowhere near black metal rock, as the previously mentioned band. But at times they carry the same insanity vocal wise, represented in such a magnificent manner by the laughing towards the end of III.

Out next is Schlaflos, a one-man band that has a slightly different take on it. This is even more trance-inducing and psychotic, but in a league of its own. One could still compare it to the Swedish greats, but it carries its own sound. Sections of the same classic, depressive black metal is mixed with hypnotic parts of melodic progressiveness. Just take "Jenseits meiner reichweite" as an example, and listen to the unusual guitar work. It’s chilling in an impressive manner. And to make it even more interesting one suddenly realize that one doesn’t need tortured screams to make it depressive. I actually didn’t even notice at first this its instrumental. The music itself is so incredibly packed with bleakness that vocals might even have been redundant. The instrumentation is interesting, and draws you in. Inside the world of Schlaflos you’ll be faced with your own worst nightmares, be it lost in a pitch-black maze or locked in a room of your inner demons, this paints the picture.

Depressive and minimalistic black metal can easily become too harsh, with lousy production and hardly any music to speak of. But here we have two quality acts proving that it can just as well be laced perfectly with minimalism, while still containing the same stark aura of despair.

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