The word Weltanschauung is defined as “A comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world, especially from a specific standpoint.” After one single listen to Ukrainian black metal band Nokturnal Mortum’s latest album Weltanschauung
, the world and standpoint in which Nokturnal Mortum were viewing becomes completely clear, and will help explain a lot about what exactly they were going for with this rather intricate and complex album. I’ll let the listener decide what to believe and what standpoint you think this is coming from, but it truly requires the full and undivided attention of the listener to understand what is being told here.
The album is a daunting 1.2 hours, something which may appear difficult to swallow to some, but to others it may be like an epic poem telling the story of a war of both attrition and glory, a two faced battle in which only the conscious may declare the victor. Out of the 14 tracks, 8 are instrumentals. I’ve heard from many different reviews how unnecessary the instrumentals are, but quite frankly I think these reviews are missing the point of the album. This wasn’t meant to be just another mindless black metal release, this was created to mean something
not just be another album which goes in one ear and out the other. The actual songs present here are extremely long, each one being over seven and a half minutes, with the longest clocking in at 12:24. Between each track, the instrumental fills in the listener on what is happening between one song and the next. These connections make the entire album make sense as a whole, something I really would like to see more of.
The actual music here is something to marvel at. I’ve never really heard a band quite like Nokturnal Mortum in the sense of their heavy use of folk elements in their black metal. The use of keyboards is a staple of this band, and is certainly present here during nearly ever track. In terms of folk instruments, there is a small arsenal of instruments which make an appearance, including bagpipes, ocarinas, flutes, and other, more interesting instruments such as the drymba, telynka, kobza, or the zitra. It is indeed a daunting number of instruments to have in one black metal album, but each is used to its fullest potential in creating the sound which makes Nokturnal Mortum so unique within the genre. This isn’t to say that normal, more traditional metal instruments aren’t present. The guitars are sometimes at the forefront of the songs, setting the tone before the other instruments take things away, like at the beginning of “The Knots Upon The Thread Of Fate”. However, there are also riffs in which the guitars take a complete back seat, creating moments of both confusion and admiration (the passage at about 1:16 into the title track “Weltanschauung” caught me completely off guard) which make the songs both varied and original.
As always, Nokturnal Mortum brings along a great outfit of vocals to their music, which simply puts the icing on the cake. The use of both clean and screamed vocals to the music here adds a tremendous amount of variance, and also continues to separate Nokturnal Mortum from any other black metal act out there right now. The clean vocals aren’t really sung in the traditional sense, it is more like a variation best described as a combination of singing and talking. It suits the music very well and compliments the screamed vocals, which are raspy and distant, the production serving it well in terms of having that far-off effect but all the while the listener is still able to clearly hear them. It’s these elements of variance, along with the folk instruments, transitioning between acoustic and electric guitar, and spot on drumming which makes this album so well thought out and so well executed.
The album really gets it’s atmosphere from the overwhelming emphasis on war, spanning from Medieval battlegrounds to the bloody beaches of World War II, the sounds of war are here. The instrumental track “Harvesting The Seeds Of Death” brings in a very suiting and quite brooding bagpipe to play what appears to be a war song, before giving way to the sounds of bullets, heavy explosions, and screams taken from none other than Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan
. While I would have liked to hear more original World War II ambiance than this, it suits the instrumental, and the following tracks “The Taste Of Victory” and “The Way Of Glory” very well, and bring you right to the center of battle where your friends are being torn apart by machine gun fire. You are just sort of transported back to June 6, 1944, as the first verses of the powerful “The Taste Of Victory” roaring in the background, as you just watch the horror unfold. It is the pinnacle of the album, no doubt, and it is the perfect way to close things out.
Once all is said and done, you can look back upon Weltanschauung
and simply marvel. This is easily the best Nokturnal Mortum album since Goat Horns
, and also a damn good concept executed just as well. What exactly Nokturnal Mortum was viewing is, in my opinion, a view of World War II from the eyes of a Nazi soldier. It is not the band’s experience, no, what happens here is the life of a wartime soldier. The sights, the sounds, the madness of war all come alive here. This is the story which is being told, this is Nokturnal Mortum’s Weltanschauung