posted on 6/2009 By:
For me, black metal is the genre I am most picky about. It has to have that perfect balance of frosty atmosphere, grim grandiosity and epic menace that few bands since the demise of Emperor have been able to perfect. Germany’s Geist is one such band.
Formed after members split from revered underground act Eismalsott, and notably having members of avant-garde German act Enid in their ranks, Geist, with their third album have delivered arguably one of the more complete and impressive recent displays of ‘perfect’ black metal - at least to these ears. It’s well produced, it’s polished, it has moments of enigmatic atmosphere and ambience (notably the first few minutes of each track), it’s very delicately flocked with some synths and programming, but most important of all, it’s absolutely chock full of utterly brilliant riffs.
Within the album's 5 long tracks (all upwards of 8 minutes and closer “Unter toten Kapitänen” coming in at 15 minutes) the riffs range from mid paced Teutonic marching riffs to blistering tremolo picked blasts, all rendered with a tightly wound, but glossed with an organic menace that personifies black metal without overdoing the spooky theatrics or grim, lo fi aesthetics. If you took Immortal’s transitional, polished era (At the Heart of Winter, Damned In Black) and added some typically, militant Germanic rhythms and dash of Taake, early Dimmu Borgir and Emperor and you get some idea.
The opening title track builds then switches from mid paced rumbling to stern melodic blast beats with a solid percussive back bone, but on the second track, (and personal favorite) “Ein Winter auf See” Geist (after a short intro) unleash one of those utterly perfect riffs not unlike Walpurgisnacht’s “Duyvelsrit der Bockereyders,” officially hooking me into the album with the main riff as well as some well developed restrained tangents about halfway in. Another lengthy build starts the excellent “Durch Lichtlose Tiefen,” yet another track that blends steady Germanic march with epic, seethingly melodic tremolo picked perfection which also surfaces at the 2:53 mark of following track “Helike” which throws in a very cool mid paced chord progression to boot. Vocally, there is no deviation from a typical blackened rasp - not too shrilled, not too forced, nothing off the wall (though there are some spoken samples in the closing track) - just right. The aforementioned closer, is initially a bit of a letdown as it’s a lot of watery samples and synths and a doom metal like plod but the lumbering riff that surfaces at 4:58 is genius as is the gorgeous melodies around the 8 minute mark. Just stunning.
If like me you found the recent Old Man’s Child to be another rehashed, recycled black metal snorefest, dig a littler deeper to uncover the likes of Conspiracy's Concordat and Geist's Galeere for some far more impressive black metal mastery.
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