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Wald Geist Winter - Teufelskreise - 60%

Phuling, July 26th, 2011

Black Devastation Records usually have a pretty good standard for their releases, and there’s this typical underground feel to their roster. It seems like half of it’s made up of Taake’s own projects, and I suspect he’s also involved in Wald Geist Winter, but under the moniker of Sucellus. And given the quality of his other acts (Wolfsschrei, Odal, Erhabenheit etc) I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed by Teufelskreise.

What we’re dealing with here is quite Norwegian sounding black metal, that of the 90ies style. A German flair is added, but the focus is predominately on the second wave of Norwegian black metal. On the surface Teufelskreise might seem to have it all, but once you listen carefully and really focus some cracks and flaws will appear. The biggest flaw, maybe even the only genuine flaw, is the riffing. It’s rare that I say this, but it is truly uninteresting. Sure, the melody is there, but the overall quality of riffs is very low. There isn’t a single one you’ll remember after the album’s over, and it’s quite frankly a little difficult to even notice the riffs while the record’s playing. It sounds incredibly basic in that department, and on a couple of occasions even truly annoying; I mean seriously, what the hell is the deal with the fucked-up, low-fi solo at the end of Der nacht entrissen?

Trying to overlook the fact that a very important part of Wald Geist Winter’s music is so uninspiring I have to admit that the rest of it’s solid. The drumming is really good with great tempo changes, and it’s noticeable there’s a knack for great blasting that really takes you back to before it became a competition of who could get the most BPMs. It sounds vivid and true, nothing triggered about it. The bass drum sound is also quite hefty, leaving the pounding moments resounding through the listener’s spine as it hammers on. Vocally they’ve definitely got it nailed. While the overall scream is a typical black scream they spice things up with extremely effective backups, like the brief moments of a clean choir in König Lorak, which almost gives me goosebumps, it’s so good.

In the end I’d really like to focus solely on the positive parts, and the positive parts are really bloody positive, but unfortunately the negative part (ie the bland riffing) is such a downer. But, don’t let that scare you away from this album. The riffing might not be something you’ll hum in the shower, but the melodies do complement the great drumming and vocals nicely.

Originally written for My Last Chapter

Teufelskreise - 42%

Memnarch, March 17th, 2011

'Atmospheric' is one of those tags that many bands seem to get categorized with, more often than not solely due to the lyrical themes and even album cover alone at times. It's a tricky type of sound to achieve, when it's executed right it can be extraordinary, but more often than not when it boils down to it, it's no more than a group of chancers trying to pass off repetitive minimal tremolo riffing and vocals slapped with a huge dose of reverb as cold, frostbite inducing black metal. When in truth it's not, and is the category that Wald Geist Winter fall into.

Teufelskreise is their debut, and is thirty three minutes of middle of the road raw black metal bearing a passing resemblance to the second wave Norwegian scene with some elements of DSBM thrown in for good measure. The musicianship itself isn't actually too bad, the drumming is tight enough if slightly repetitive and the vocals par for the course with much of this type of music, alternating between a Dakrthrone-esque croak and something that wouldn't be out of place on a Xasthur album. It's the guitar work and shallow production which are the cause of much of Teufelskreise's shortcomings. The guitar work itself is weak and without any real substance, monotonous and lacks any sort of presence, and at times falls remarkably in and out of tune and as a result is severely jarring. The riffing in general is just flat out forgettable, not helped by the poor tinny production. The album might as well be one thirty three minute song split up into seven parts, because they all sound exactly the same and follow exactly the same formula.

Where Wald Geist Winter go next remains to be seen, but if they're to make any sort of headway onto better pastures they could do with some fresh inspiration, for Teufelskreise doesn't contain any unique elements whatsoever to make it stand out from the thousands of other bands peddling the same thing. One of those albums you put away into your CD rack and find a year or two later and think “Oh, I forgot I even had that”. Must try harder.