Review Summary: A three pronged assault on your feeble beliefs.
Holding such radical beliefs, it’s rather fortunate that most black metal bands aren’t noticed due to their shi
tty music. Take the entire NSBM (National Socialist Black Metal) scene for example; their political and racial views are ludicrous, but nobody takes any notice because their creative instincts are just as bad as their outdated and discriminate principles. Nevertheless, Weltenfeind
is a split that is screaming for attention; not simply because of the beliefs, or alleged beliefs, of the three bands, but also because it’s such a good piece of music that you can almost forgive yourself for enjoying it so much. The three bands that have come together to create Weltenfeind
have one important thing in common: they all play black metal very well. Furthermore, one facet of the split which makes it so appealing is that although each band is unique in their own right, there is a very noticeable fluidity between each of their allotted sections on the split. This is perhaps more a successful progression rather than a simple musical similarity, but it definitely works in the split’s favour. It’s also of importance to note that the hatred which inspires this style of music is very much alive on Weltenfeind
; both Absurd and Grand Belial’s Key have very outspoken views on rather sensitive issues, and each band successfully conceptualises their disdain in musical form. In other words, this is not washed out, fuzzy, and forgettable black metal; it’s inspired (albeit for all the wrong reasons), blasphemous and hugely enjoyable.
Long established German NSBM band Absurd open the split with the title track, and waste absolutely no time in thrusting you into the band’s signature melodic tremolos, double kick blasting the virgin born. Of the three bands on Weltenfeind
, Absurd definitely have the most ‘typical’ black metal sound, with Grand Belial’s Key characterized by Gelal Necrosodomy’s wonderful guitar lines and Sigrblot being something else entirely. Production-wise, Absurd’s third of the split is fantastic, every riff assonating wonderfully with the rhythm section, the cohesive musicianship then complementing the already established vocals. Absurd’s style of black metal, while being brutal in its intense gutturals and relentless drumming, is hugely melodic, both in its riffing and guitar leads. After the furious title track, ‘Black Hand of Death’ opens with a very catchy doom-inspired riff, retaining its sense of blackened viciousness before letting the lead guitar lines smooth the song over. ‘Ulfhednir – Todesschwadron’ is Absurd’s longest song on the split, and characterizes the band’s ability in fusing catchy and fluid melodies while snarling with a heavy tint of vehemence. The way Absurd maintains its catchy appeal comes to life in their fourth track ‘Die Gesandten des Grauens’, a cover of the German rock band Der Fluch; while remaining true to the original in its upbeat and effective styling, it covers it in a black gloss, sounding somewhat evil from the harsh vocals, and, ultimately, being a rather amusing end to their side of the split.
Another well known band takes up from where Absurd left off; well known, as with Absurd, for their rigid and generally unaccepted beliefs, but also because of their completely untouchable status amongst the USBM scene. Grand Belial’s Key, although slightly comparable to its death metal sister in Arghoslent, is basically the single band of its kind; no other black metal band, whether they’re from the USBM scene or adhere to the more geographically vast NSBM scene, sounds remotely like Grand Belial’s Key. As their newest material since 2005’s Kosherat
, and perhaps the last we will ever hear from the band, the four songs offered by the now defunct band hold a special place for any fan, and it is safe to say that there is no disappointment whatsoever. Due to line-up changes and the passing of four years, the band’s sound evolved quite noticeably between their acclaimed Judeobeast Assassination
and their final full length Kosherat
. The four tracks on Weltenfeind
seem to be of a very positive evolution from Kosherat
, maintaining that album’s smoothness and cohesion, while being constantly aggressive and musically profane a la Judeobeast Assassination
. Beginning with ‘It Bribes the Heavens’, GBK set the scene with several minutes of doom-laden riffs, with indecipherable chanting and weeping moans setting the brooding atmosphere. The ferocity of the change in tempo and Grimnir’s vocals then hits you like a freight train before you’re thrust into what is one of the best Grand Belial’s Key songs in eight years. The remaining four and a half minutes of the song is absolutely packed with typical GBK arse-kicking riffery, incredibly tasteful solos and constant blaspheming. The sonic sodomy that was Judeobeast Assassination
comes to life immediately, proving that the band has not lost its touch.
The soloing of ‘It Bribes the Heavens’ is the second half of the sublime juxtaposition between the track’s desolate verses and bleak feel. Both lead breaks are superb, and fit in perfectly with the track. It seems one cannot give enough praise to Gelal Necrosodomy; his knack for writing riffs and solos which are complex, catchy, beautiful and harrowing is unsurpassed. His work on these four tracks is up to the incredibly high standard he sets for himself, and any fan of his work will not be disappointed with this third of Weltenfeind
. The next track ‘Mourners Flock to Gethsemane’ is an unrelentingly awesome piece of anti-Christian musical warfare, beginning with a devastating riff which just builds and builds, not giving the listener any hint of relief. The little bass pumps that connected gaps in the riffs were a very nice touch, and really added to the heaviness of the song. On that note, the production of these four songs is perhaps the best of any Grand Belial’s Key recording; there still is that under-produced, slightly washed out GBK sound that we all love, but the clarity nonetheless remains excellent. Following ‘Mourners Flock to Gethsemane’, another eight minute track is thrown our way, under the name ‘Yahweh’s Charlatan’s’. This track solidifies GBK as an ever continuing innovator, giving such an unexpectedly heavy mid-section you’ll be hurrying to find some tissues to clean up the mess you just made all over your belly. GBK’s obsession with doing blackened punk covers seemingly taints Weltenfeind
, but unlike on previous albums, ‘Can’t Tell No One’, isn’t so bad, and only goes for a minute.
With the end of the first two-thirds of Weltenfeind
, we leave behind the highly prejudiced black metal into something a little more palatable to those who think it’s inherently wrong to practise free speech. Swedish Sigrblot, who openly claim they are neither part of the NSBM scene nor even a black metal band, are a musically unique band who, unlike Weltenfeind
’s other two bands, have a very sparse discography, the split being only the second release the band has been involved in. The band’s style, rather heavily influenced by your typical folk/black metal sound, is surprisingly good, and their first track ‘Braadödha Vindh (Diävuls Andadräth)’ immediately delves into this brand of blackened pagan worship. What greatly defines Sigrblot, besides the highly accessible nature of their music, is the vocals. Somewhat raspy, oftentimes very throaty, the gutturals give the four tracks a distinct character, and are furthered in this respect by constant vocal layering.
Although I am rather dubious of the band’s claim that they are not black metal, it’s easy to see why they would consider themselves so; the band’s musical intentions do not comply to that of your typical black metal bands, and it’s only in the rather marked black metal influence that the mention of the genre comes up. The tremolo picked riffing and somewhat folkish feel adds to this classification, but the progressive elements of Sigrblot are as strong as, if not stronger, than the obvious black metal ones. The band features a large amount of acoustic intervals, at times even mixed in with the rest of the music as can be seen on ‘Varg I Veum’. While the black metal sentiment is strong in the first track of Sigrblot’s third, it slowly dissipates over the course of the four songs, until one is left with ‘Kali Yuga Intifada’, a track that has only the slightest hint of the earlier black metal influence, and remains more in the territory of what one could claim to be experimental or progressive metal. The track is driven by a relentless riff, interspersed with various mellow interludes and vocal samples, continuously remaining interesting and not succumbing to any sort of repetition. This can be used to describe Sigrblot’s entire third, or even the whole split itself; being the collaboration of three different bands, it does not at any stage lose its appeal, and then even within the respective sides of the split, each band makes sure to deliver four attention grabbing songs that instantly work their way into your head and remain there.
What is most engaging about Weltenfeind
is the way it brings together what are three seemingly different bands with respective styles of music that share some oddities in common, but overall collude in a way which makes the split a constantly listenable composition of black metal. The progression between the sounds of each of the bands is extraordinarily fluid, and one can see why it took three years before this split was released; every measure has been taken to ensure it lives up to its own ambitions, and without a doubt they have been reached, and easily surpassed. Highly recommended.