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The next step - 95%

HeidraCatharsis, December 2nd, 2010

Since their debut album, Geist Ist Teufel, Urfaust have managed to gain a relatively small but fiercely devoted fanbase. Not that it's surprising; the drunken Dutch duo have a way of polarizing listeners with their unique, ritualistic blend of black/doom metal. Operating as a duo in itself has set them apart from other bands one might compare them with; the absence of bass, VRDRBR's minimalistic and precise drumming and IX's crushing riffs and haunting chants doesn't make for music that sticks at first listen. But once you start walking down the path of appreciation for this eccentric black art, you're not coming back any time soon.

Der freiwillige Bettler, to me, marks the high point of Urfaust's career. It's simply the perfect, most logical next step in their creative direction. The production is much more elaborate than on previous releases, featuring both bass, male choirs(probably supplied entirely by IX) and much more guitar and keyboard layers in each song, giving the entire album a texture richer than that of anything they've achieved so far. Whereas the sparse, thin sound of the previous albums worked perfectly, Urfaust don't have the need to play the shabby production card to cover up lack of musicianship. They utilize all the new musical elements flawlessly. The solid, marching rhythms and forceful guitar riffs from releases such as Verr├Ątischer, Nichtsw├╝rdiger Geist and the material from their various split releases has been mated with the keyboard-soaked black mass ambience of Drei Ritualen Jenseits Des Kosmos, with perfect balance and a hitherto unseen sense of details such as the interplay between the guitars and the keyboards. IX's trademark vocals are better and more varied than ever; from Xasthur-like DSBM shrieks to multi-layered, impossibly high-pitched Gregorian-like chants.

Urfaust have taken the next step in their career, and they're as ready as can be. Their discography up until this album will endure in its simplistic uniquity, whereas this blend of every good element from the previous releases(and several new ones) gives their talent and musicianship even better justice, and I can only hope that this album coupled with their busy live schedule will attract the widespread attention they've been deserving all this time. Light a shitload of candles, unscrew the bottle and fire up the weed, and you're all set for a solemn, powerful ritual in the name of intoxicated madness.