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Breathtaking - 98%

MonolitheII, June 1st, 2006

I had my browser set to Flood the Earth (the US label for Vinterriket's releases) as the homepage for weeks. After hearing such beautiful works of art such as Der Letzte Winter - Der Ewigkeit Entgegen, Landschafter Ewiger Einsamkeit, and ...Und Die Nacht Kam Schweren Schrittes, I could not help myself but to glue my eyes to my screen until this released. The second the update for this album launched, I pushed my 15 USD forward and waited; like a giddy school kid with his new pair of Jordans. Put simply, I couldn't wait for this release.

For any of those who may not know, Vinterriket is a one-man ambient black metal project formed by Christoph Ziegler. To put things shortly about the man, his work throughout the decade has proven itself to be worthy of mention to projects such as Burzum and earlier day Ulver.

Lichtschleier is no exception to the rule. With the droning structure of the keyboard pads and presses that happen to come forth and are prevlane throughout the album, you're greeted with a confused emotion. Vinterriket happens to invoke such things -- in between the threshold of beauty and monotony, there's the ever-changing rhythm of the keys that happen to dominate the six track album. In all albums, the keyboard has been the dominant instrument of tranquility, or chaos; what have you of the projects from which are inferred.

The album starts with Im Augenblick Der Nacht. Gently fading in are the windy synth-string effects which whirl from one note to the next, never leaving one in a state of boredom but struck with such intensifying wonder. Next is Nebelwand. Not long into the song the synthetic string effects fade into a more watery change of notes and structure. Some single string proportions are noted throughout the song near the end, magnifying the greatness of the song and the world it beckons to describle -- no matter how big or small.

Momente Schierer Dunkelheit is a very dramatic song, clinging onto almost choir-like sound structures as keys melt away into the backdrop of the song. The beauty of such things is unable to be properly documented and thus must be heard for one's own self, and then comes the title track. Lichtschleier has a glassy array of effects here -- from strings to synth-pads to halo keys -- hitting both low and high notes at times, and at other times, doing one or the other. This song is a sheer masterpiece. Horizonte Der Sterblichkeit follows this, close to identical pattern, which is the only reason I'm giving it a 98 percent. Lichtschleier and Horizonte Der Sterblichkeit are far too similar, however I don't knock the fact that they are. It's only a miniscule lack of proportion, especially when both songs are placed end to end. My only complain is with the beginnings of both songs sounding similar with different effects.

Illusion Des Eises has to be my most favorite track next to Lichtschleier itself. Rainy, slowed organ effects and melancholic strings drape the wintry wind and falling rain in the background. A fitting end to a very anticipated album.

For those who choose to rather summarize everything, Lichtschleier is beautifully crafted ambient work from someone who isn't just bashing their head on any old Yamaha throwaway. If there's anyone who enjoys the metal parts of their music being absent, if for only but a few albums in between, then please, do yourself a favor and pick up this magnificent album. You'll thank yourself for it in the long run.