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Tardigrades are Fucking Awesome - 82%

Thumbman, February 19th, 2017

Tardigrades are the most metal animal ever, and I'm honestly surprised that a metal band hasn't named themselves after them sooner. These eight-legged microanimals, also known as water bears or moss piglets, are the most resilient animals in existence. They can survive heat that would reduce most animals to ash as well as cold that would turn most into an icecube, they can survive extreme pressure - they are found both high in mountains and in deep ocean trenches, and can survive without food or water for thirty fucking years. Now, are Tardigrada the same paragon of extreme badassery as their namesake? Well, no. Tardigrada are in fact quite atmospheric and Emotionale Ödnis is pretty relaxing as far as black metal goes. However, they are quite good at what they do and this is a quality atmospheric black metal offering.

There are five pairs of songs, each consisting of a shorter atmospheric track numbered I-V and a more long-winded black metal opus. The atmospheric offerings are all quite peaceful and serene, possessing a lush wintery vibe. The black metal follows in the same atmospheric vein. It's not a languid lily-llivered wussfest as some of the black metal bands treading on the lighter side of the genre tend to be. It's not particularly hateful or savage either, but it's legitimate black metal and it succeeds at capturing the emotions it set out to explore (the English translation for the album title is Emotional Wasteland, after all). There is both despair and bittersweet beauty in the sounds, with tortured shrieks impaling themselves upon frozen rolling hills of wandering tremolo. They remind me of Forteresse in how the slow-winding melodies gradually unfold.

Instrumentally, everything is on point. There's no fancy guitar work, with Tardigrada relying on tasteful atmospheric melody, potent atmospherics and wistful tremolo. They do employ the occasional more rocking riff, but these moments are few and far between. The bass is there, but has no real standout moments, getting lost in the hazy blizzard of tremolo. However, it does its job and Emotionale Ödnis doesn't sound thin. What actually impressed me immensely was the drumming. The tone is quite clean, but it fits what they're doing. This guy has no problem blasting away; no problem with holding back and letting the guitar speak for itself. His drumming is quite varied and dynamic, whether he's laying down some cascading toms, doing some cool snare rolls or rocking up a groove, he always sounds fantastic.

If there's one thing to criticize Tardigrada for, it's probably that they're not particularly original and adhere strictly to a well-defined style. This didn't really bother me, though. While it certainly isn't one of the best black metal albums I've seen come out of 2016, it's still better than most. While perhaps not outstanding, it is quite good and scratches the itch I have for some quality black metal when a snowstorm hits. While I wouldn't mind if they were a bit more adventurous for the sophomore, this is a strong first strike.