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Vinterriket > Gebirgshoehenstille > Reviews
Vinterriket - Gebirgshoehenstille

Some effective and atmospheric moments - 60%

MusiqueMashine, June 24th, 2011

Gebirgshohenstille finds one man German black metal/ambient project Vinterriket focusing more on the atmospheric ambient keyboard side of his sound to create 6 sonic hymns to the loneliness and beauty of the mountainscapes, with only two tracks having blacked guitar and vocal tones on them.

The tracks come off as a mix of typical yet atmospheric black metal synth unfolds, sombre take on Popol Vuh or Tangerine Dream type ambiance, With field recordings of wind and mountain sound like textures shifting back and forth over the pieces. The tracks go from highly effective, beautiful and awe inspiring as if one was standing on a tall mountain looking over the world, to darker and slow sonic climbs with the feeling weariness and approaching night time. Through individually many tracks are enjoyable and effective as a whole the tracks do tend to be a little samey in their unfold and progression, too little is done to add in new textures and layers of sound so more often then not it will seemingly drift on and on at the same pace with the same synthsound from one track to the next.There are attempts later on to add in piano tones and other sounds, but it feels all a little too late. It may have helped if he had mixed in the Black Metal tracks more evenly instead of near the beginning and at the end of the album.

Certainly some effective and atmospheric moments on display but as a whole album it becomes too familiar and samey for its own good. Though I would be interested in hearing some more of his work as he really has a way with creating pieces that hover both in beauty and great loneliness.
Originally posted at www.musiquemachine.com

Lazy - 17%

skinticket, December 27th, 2009

The simplest ambience can be very effective. No more than a slightly fluctuating note with barely audible background noise can be enough to soothe a stressed mind. That doesn't always qualify as good though. Effective, yes, maybe even beautiful, but never a work of art! When you mash together some simplistic 'my-first-casio' strings covered with distorted shrieks and disgusting plastic drums and release it as a full-length album, you're either lazy, stupid or very optimistic.

There is no need to highlight any specific part of the album, because it's pretty much just an hour of a single repeating pattern, except for the two songs ('Im Dunkel des Hoehenzuges' and the title track) that adds a layer of the aforementioned abominable drums and 'vocals'. I love black metal, and the screaming and growling is an important part of creating the right mood, but when you're trying to relax to layers of dreamy strings, 20 minutes of distorted, nasal screaming is a horrible mismatch.

I can't help but wonder what herr Ziegler was thinking when he created this. "Okay, I'll start up Fruity Loops, put some awful synth-strings on, and let my cat walk on the keyboard for an hour or so, before I scream and vomit on the microphone. Then I'll slice it up, and sell it to my gullable fans..." Admit it, Ziegler! I'm not far off, am I?

I could maybe respect this if it was the soundtrack of a movie, because in small doses, it has a soothing effect, and serves well as an establishment of the mood. But a full hour of it is a waste of time and money. It is this, and one other thing that saves this from an absolute zero; in the middle of 'Steig in die Ungewisshet' there is a brief piano intermission. It's not particulary good, but at least it wakes you up from the sleep this album will put you in.

I have no previous relationship with Vinterriket's music, and I certainly don't intend to delve any deeper into their/his discography after listening to this album. If you're in to minimalistic/simplistic art, this might be right up your alley, but for any other sane, music aficionado looking for some soothing ambience, you'd much rather be listening to the vacuum cleaner before putting this on.

Reaching stalemate - 59%

Pestbesmittad, March 20th, 2008

After releasing two ambient full-lengths in a row (“Weisse Nächte...” and “Lichtschleier”), Christoph decided to bring back the metal element into Vinterriket’s music. I welcome this decision but sadly there’s not a lot of metal on this album, only two songs. The other four songs consist of, you guessed it, slow moving cold and scenic synth ambient inspired by winter. As much as I like to listen to this kind of ambient every once in a while, there’s too much of it here for my taste. Perhaps two ambient tracks and four metal tracks would’ve been a better ratio? I felt Christoph was onto a winning formula with the “Der letzte Winter - Der Ewigkeit entgegen” album, on which the metal tracks outnumbered the ambient tracks and the ambient tracks were kept pretty short.

Every track on “Gebirgshöhenstille” except for one is over nine minutes long. I must say that just like on “Landschaften Ewiger Einsamkeit”, the long ambient tracks start to bore me since they’re too minimalist to keep my attention if I want to focus on the music. As background music they’re OK though. Another point I have to make is that Christoph sticks to the same formula over and over again when composing his ambient tracks. I feel like I’ve heard these same chord progressions and melodies several times before already on previous Vinterriket releases. There’s nothing new here, no development has occurred. It’s of course the artists’ own choice how they write and perform their music, but in Vinterriket’s case things are getting very predictable by now. This is after all already the seventh full-length (not to mention the rest of the very extensive discography!) and yet he just keeps repeating himself. Most of the time I like it when bands don’t change their style but in Vinterriket’s case I’m dying to hear something new.

The metal tracks, “Im Dunkel des Höhenzuges” and the title track, are no doubt the most enjoyable ones, combining distorted frosty guitars with massive synths in the usual Vinterriket fashion. The only negative point on these tracks are the vocals. They have once again taken on a desperate character a’la “Winterschatten”. I’m not too happy about this but in the end I can live with it I suppose. The two metal tracks are also the most varied ones on the album and therefore easily my favourites. However, the same criticism that can be directed at Christoph’s ambient pieces, i.e. repeating himself, can also be directed at his metal compositions. These two metal tracks cannot bring anything new to Vinterriket’s ambient black metal sound.

There’s also no change from previous releases when it comes to the production of “Gebirgshöhenstille”. This album is most likely recorded at home on a computer and just like previously, a drum machine takes care of the drum parts. The guitar sound, the sound of the programmed drums, the synths - everything sounds the same as before. Whether we’re talking ambient or black metal, Vinterriket hasn’t changed during the years and this has resulted in a stalemate. I would really like to see some musical development in the future.