posted on 1/2010 By:
Two weeks ago I was ready to write off Semen Datura’s Einsamkeit as a sometimes interesting but mostly mediocre form of scatterbrained black metal. I wasn’t getting it. I was merely hearing the occasionally brilliant moments that fell short when trying to translate into good songs. Then something happened. When I was doing what I thought was my last pre-review listen, it clicked. It wasn’t a “holy shit I’ve discovered the heirs to Euronymous!” moment, but something about this album buried itself in my skull like those creepy fuckin’ crustaceans from The Wrath of Kahn. What hit me was that Semen Datura are just a damn good band, and regardless if they have achieved perfection on Einsamkeit (they haven’t), they have provided a quality merging of black metal stylings which should appeal to fans who like it varied, riff-oriented, well-played, and slightly strange.
So what exactly is pouring from this German bar tap? The formula begins with guitar-centric, half-raw black metal but expands on it in several seemingly polarizing directions. After a short and eerie intro (so tired of writing that), “Unter Bleigrauen Wolkenlasten” makes a helluva kickoff by molding together said half-raw black metal with simplified Opethian riffs, sped up (and well-placed) blasted sections, and other passages that bring to mind the eerie mentality of fellow Deutschland denizen Christian Kolf (Woburn House, Valborg, etc.). Immediately following this with a simplistic ode to the school of Burzum may seem a bit left-field-ish, but that appears to be the theme on Einsamkeit: take an idea, work it, enjoy it, move on.
Other tunes making the most out of Semen Datura’s stylistic shifts are the multi-sectioned “Marschbefehl” (glued together by a bitchin’ lead break in the middle) and album closer “Arkona.” In the black metal tradition of ending albums under a foreboding shadow, “Arkona” is the album’s longest, most atmospheric, and most melodic song, laying a musical canvas in which riffs are stretched out purely for mood. It works in excellent contrast to the album’s pedal-to-the-metal moments, and provides a suitable bookend.
Semen Datura’s foremost virtue is the impression that they are musicians who thoroughly enjoy playing together. The blast beats are lighter than the norm and unforced, and many of the riffs have a rockin’ “fun to play” quality to them, but most striking is that even the bass has an active role in the melodies of the songs (the moving lines in the aforementioned “Unter Bleigrauen Wolkenlasten” are the best example). This not only adds to that “damn good band” feeling that emerges when spinning Einsamkeit, but it helps to make up for the occasional songwriting shortcoming. Throw in a clear yet suitable production and you have a sneaky surprise of an album that reveals more value during the twentieth listen than it did at its fifth. It’s not perfect, and it’s pretty fuckin’ far from being revolutionary, but I can recommend it without hesitation to those possessing the patience to let it sink in.
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