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Urfaust > Apparitions > Reviews
Urfaust - Apparitions

Occult rituals and ghostly incantations. - 80%

Witchfvcker, March 3rd, 2015

Urfaust is a strange and multifaceted beast. Their shadowy and ineffable journey began somewhere between 2003 and 2004 as a dark ambient project, then evolved through several incarnations of bizarre black and doom metal, by way of neoclassical atmospheres, and occult psychedelic rock. If one cohesive factor has defined the Dutch duo, it is their devotion to creating pitch black atmospheres with a strong medieval flavor. Their latest offering is released as an EP, despite being almost 44 minutes long, and by all accords Apparitions will keep the ritualistic candles burning.

As the mythical ouroboros consumes its tail, Urfaust return to the twilight corners where it all began. Three quarters of Apparitions lies far beyond the realms of metal, drifting towards gloomy ambience and ceremonial incantations. Loosely resembling a seven minute intro-track, “The End Of Genetic Circles” is a droning and ominous instrumental piece, setting the mood for the unholy sacrament which is about to take place. Far more interesting is the subsequent title track, which features synthesized strings in the place of guitars, the slow, determinant rhythms of sticksman VRDRBR, frontman IX’s characteristic chants, and eventually the gentle plucking of an acoustic guitar. It is, in a word, weird, but it is the kind of macabre weirdness from which Urfaust have always carved their path. Less outright bombastic than the orchestral dabbling of Verräterischer, Nichtswürdiger Geist, this is a new direction that might be their darkest foray yet.

Coming from any other band, it would be patently ridiculous to call “The Healer” a conventional piece. Out of the four tracks of Apparitions, however, it is the only one that could conceivably have come from one of Urfaust’s previous offerings. His distinct lamentations and wails make IX sound as tormented and possessed as ever, and a main riff that drips of sorrow and despair sets the controls downwards into the heart of darkness. That despondent nadir comes in the form of “The River”, a ritualistic ambient work stretching across 23 haunting minutes. Multilayered chants and eerie synths paint a mournful and somewhat terrifying picture, as a natural extension of the already dungeon-steeped sounds of the band.

The amounts of pure ambiance, couple with the overwhelming length of “The River” makes it difficult to judge Apparitions out of context. For those who are unfamiliar with Urfaust, this would clearly be a daunting listening experience and a terrible place to start. As an EP meant to push the band’s atmospheric side as far as possible, however, Apparitions is a resounding success. The ghostly sounds and crushing melancholy throughout makes for some of Urfaust’s most sinister and moody work to date.

Written for The Metal Observer

Bottled Madness of Impurity - 70%

LefterisK, March 1st, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Ván Records (Digipak)

Urfaust's Apparitions was announced just one day before its actual release on January 30th, 2015 by Ván Records, with minimal, if any, advertising or promotion. Recorded in a single day, it manages to capture the pure mysticism of a true ritual. Although it is mostly an ambient project, there is a strong black metal/ doom aesthetic, with all four songs evoking the breathtaking, occult atmosphere the Dutch duo is precisely known for. Along with this haunting aural experience, comes the excellent artwork by Thorny Thoughts, which features this apparition of impurity in its visual form.

This EP is characterized by its distinctive aura, which places great emphasis on ambiance. This means that Apparitions, just like other ambient records, should be listened to in the right environment or else it will fail to unveil itself. The rock/metal instruments (synths, guitars and [simple] drum beats) are used only if needed to add an extra layer of intensity to the songs. The vocals, whenever they appear, are reminiscent of church hymns with no real lyrics whatsoever, a tad less poignant than those on 2013's Die Erste Levitation, but definitely more imposing. Apart from the black metal vibe, which is apparent throughout the whole record, some actual black metal outbursts can be found in the track ''The Healer'', especially a little before the three-minute mark, where a chilling scream marks the beginning of an utterly captivating melody, just before IX returns with his medieval dirge. Worth mentioning is the fact that, despite the clearly (dark) ambient nature of Apparitions, the two songs (''Apparitions'' and ''The Healer'') that maintain a traditional song structure are actually quite addictive, pulling the listener in and making them want to pay multiple visits to the dark and deserted places that wraiths dwell.

All in all, this is yet another creepy but tempting trip into Urfaust's candle-lit cavern, one that you surely won't regret taking.

Lefteris Kefalas