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Not very innovative, but great - 90%

paralyzedpiet, October 6th, 2012

So here's Italian band Sturmkaiser's second album, and the first one with a full five piece band. I noticed them through a public mail exchange with a German antifascist organisation: The band was considered a Nazi band by them, and Sturmkaiser responded directly by denying all these claims. But they're clearly into provocation and also probably trying to appeal to the NSBM crowd, so everyone should know for themselves whether to support this band or not.

That being said, this is one of the black metal albums I discovered this year that simply blew me away. It's not particularly innovative, blast beats, soaring, epic tremolo melodies, high screams and stomping mid tempo interludes with a folky touch have all been done before. But it's done very well here, and that is what counts. This is my idea of a good modern black metal album: Good melodies, intricate songwriting with tempo and mood changes just at the right times, and most of all, a lot of heartfelt agression throughout. I don't give a fuck about opinions in the scene which consider Sturmkaiser to be "untrue" or "artificial" - music of this quality can only come from the heart.

To describe the music a bit further and to maybe compare it to some more well known bands: The guitar work sounds a bit like Dark Funeral with some more folk influences in the fast and slightly Bathory-esque in the slow parts, with the vocals being mostly a high to very high, raspy scream with rapid fire text delivery. The drum work is good and solid, nothing special, mostly blast beat and double bass oriented. It's actually pretty hard to describe the sound without making it sound like a boring rehash of old black metal glory, but it's definitely a lot more than that. The whole thing is spiced up with some acoustic parts and a few epic choirs... well, everyone should listen to either "Europa Pagana" or the title track to get a full impression of the sound.

This is definitely a recommended album to listen to if you can live with the image of the band.