Review Summary: A misleading album that draws you in with peaceful ambience and then drowns you in a flood of icy riffs
At a first glance, Geist appears to be some sort of blatant Wolves in the Throne Room clone; right down to the pretentious song lengths and dark cover artwork. In fact, the introduction to Galeere sounds almost identical to that of the WITTR track “Behold the Vastness and Sorrow” off of their Two Hunters album. However, quite early on, Geist makes it quite clear that they’ve got their own personal agenda in mind. After about a minute or so of dapping in WITTR-esque ambience, Geist cuts the crap and leaps straight into the maelstrom.
From start to stop, Galeere is one leviathan of an album. Instead of expanding on the gloomy shoe gaze style black metal that they displayed early on, Geist opens up the sky and brings down a torrent of hard hitting riffs. Geist strays away from the blast-beat/tremolo picking formula and explores their options, dropping juicy (and ferociously heavy) riffs into the fray along with hard-hitting drum patterns. This combination gives the album a much more ‘metal’ feel by creating tight grooves and rhythm patterns as opposed to the rapid fire assault aural assault that black metal usually is. Several sections throughout the album are 100 percent head-bang-able.
Unlike most black metal albums, the sound quality of Galeere is crystal clear. The vocals (which are all in German, unfortunate for some) are startlingly clear and discernible without over-powering any of the other instruments. Every single note and chord on the guitar floats seamlessly into your ear, clear and striking. The ambient sections are possibly the greatest example of this, audible guitar duality blending perfectly with the sound of crashing waves to create soothing atmospheres filled with grim emotion.
Every piece of the album is perfectly proportioned and well placed, and throughout the albums fifty or so minutes it does not drag at all. However, this album is not for those “black metal” fans who have only ever listened to Ulver, Dissection, and Emperor. I strongly recommend this album to anyone who appreciates ambient or progressive black metal such as Panopticon, Skullreader and of course Wolves in the Throne Room.