Paysage d'Hiver
Steineiche


5.0
classic

Review

by Suicide Boy 777 USER (202 Reviews)
January 16th, 2010 | 35 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Wintherr's debut is also his crowning jewel.

In it’s thirteen year existence, Paysage d’Hiver has yet to release a full length record despite being one of the most prolific artists in the black/ambient genre. Everything released from 1998 to 2007 has been a demo sans two split EP’s with Lunar Aurora and Das Winterreich. Don’t be fooled by the lack of albums or the minimal number of tracks found on the demos because most of Paysage’s work contain lengthy, musically complex numbers that often exceed the ten minute mark. Another misconception could be that since Paysage’s discography consists solely of demos, one might think the band is of demo quality in terms of songwriting abilities. That is false however. Wintherr (Tobias Mockl), sole musician of both Paysage d’Hiver and Darkspace, creatively achieves success in the ambient and black metal genres, often times fusing both to a positive result. The demo in question today is Wintherr’s 1997 debut Steineiche which in my opinion far surpasses anything else I’ve heard from the band.

My first introduction to Paysage d’Hiver was not a pleasant one. As I was just beginning to explore the roots of black metal, I was instantly put off by Wintherr’s lo-fi aesthetic. Consisting of heavy distortion and drone like rhythms, I immediately let my discontent and lack of understanding fill up the thread on sputnik’s listening party. A few years later I listened to the band again. This time around I’ve begun to appreciate the down tempo melodicism and minimalist nature of Paysage d’Hiver.

Steineiche, translating to Stone Oak, is Wintherr’s debut demo and bears somewhat of a nature concept as some of the song titles translate to “The Tree Woman” and “The Tree Man” in English. The demo consists of four lengthy songs, the shortest just surpassing the eleven and a half minute mark. Ambient and black metal elements often intermingle, causing a sort of collision between the two genres. At times the music is very slow and melodic with limited vocals and guitars, while at other times distorted guitars and harsh vocals dominate the funereal atmosphere. At sixty two minutes long, this demo requires patience and some time to sink in since this isn’t a traditional black metal or ambient record. One original complaint I had with the band was it’s lack of progression or variety. None of that is present here however. Aside from the dueling melodic to heavy dynamics, Wintherr throw’s in a few curveballs from time to time. Whether it be the somber violins on Der Baummann, the wind effects on Die Baumfrau, or the operatic female vocals and church bells displayed on the twenty four minute monolith Der Baum, Steineche features an experimental edge which would go on and disintegrate with future releases.

Wintherr is responsible for providing the bulk of the vocals as well as playing every instrument himself. Keyboards, guitar, drums, etc. My favorite part of his performance would have to be the guitars. Much of the time he’s playing heavily down tuned riffs that owe much more to doom than black metal. The lethargic pace of the guitars coupled with oppressive synthesizers and militant drum fills result in a wildly engaging take on the two metal sub genres. But as displayed by the opening track Die Baumfrau, Wintherr still stays true to the second wave of black metal by concocting fierce pickets of mid paced, tremolo picking to complement the hell raising vocals. The storm soon ends and the song slows down in pace, with the guitar and keyboards providing dual melodies.

Vocally, Wintherr is as unintelligible as they come but succeeds in proving a thorough level of aggression. Whether it be the piercing screams on "Die Baumfrau", the ghastly croaks on Der Baummann, or the oddly appealing a capella singing on the closing track “Déj* vu.” Lyrically, it’s virtually impossible to decipher what he’s raving about, unless you happen to be familiar with the German language. Lyrics to this demo are available online. Regardless, lyrics mean nothing to me in black metal as I’m far more interested by the frenzied shrieks and raw atmosphere than anything else.

The rhythm section is debatably the only flaw to this magnificent record. A lack of audible bass and drums that are often consumed by the dense production leave a lot to be desired for. But then again, the drums are rarely played to begin with so it’s not too big of a deal. Truthfully though, the prominent usage of distortion and (most notably) the blasting performance on Die Baumfrau truly are synonymous with one other. The balance of aggression and pure grotesqueness is closer than one would think. As for the bass, the album suffers the standard “where’s the bass?” syndrome but since there is so much going on already who really ***ing cares.

Steineiche, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of black metal in terms of aesthetics, aggression, atmosphere, and spirit. Since the many days and weeks and months that I have been listening to this demo, I have yet to find any real significant flaws that would detract the value from this demo for me. And because of that, I can only recommend this demo to people who truly enjoy listening to black metal. People of the clean production variety, the purple flowery symphonic bull***(used to be me, I won‘t deny), and the hipster clan can *** off and leave this alone for people who really want to hear something great.



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user ratings (62)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
illmitch
January 16th 2010


5429 Comments


paysage d'hiver, heil! good review

joshuatree
Emeritus
January 16th 2010


3742 Comments


i used to listen to this guy a lot

BallsToTheWall
January 16th 2010


44323 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Haven't heard every demo from this guy but this is undoubedtly my favorite from everything i've heard. Pretty chill for the most part.

Digging: Tiamat - Clouds

TheSpirit
January 16th 2010


17818 Comments


Nice review, glad to see you up and running again

Digging: Emarosa - Versus

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2010


17213 Comments


I havent intently listened to metal since mid-december, but i remember playing this a lot when i was
on a huge black metal kick.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

jingledeath
January 16th 2010


7104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gonna blogsearch the shit outta this bitch right now

Foxhound
January 16th 2010


4570 Comments


Looks scary so I'll risk the download thanks, pos.

SlightlyEpic
January 16th 2010


5780 Comments


Was meaning to check this guy out for a while, might as well start here.

Wizard
January 16th 2010


19395 Comments


Has this guy remastered his albums yet? Will read the review later.

Digging: Katatonia - Night Is the New Day

BallsToTheWall
January 16th 2010


44323 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

He has no albums. According to M.A everything he's released is demo, with two splits on the side. I'd definitely like a real copy of this, so if he did re-release this, that would be amazing.

ikarus
January 16th 2010


562 Comments


the only things ive heard from this guy sounded like a helicopter engine in a tin can

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2010


16388 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Band rules, I think Winterkälte is his best but I'll give this a shot tonight. Nice work, keep it kvlt.

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

illmitch
January 16th 2010


5429 Comments


yeah i agree with you on Winterkälte

BallsToTheWall
January 16th 2010


44323 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Huh, guess i'll have to listen to that some more. Einsamkeit and self titled rule pretty hard.

EyesWideShut
January 17th 2010


3150 Comments


i actually met this guy at a bar. had some beer, shot pool, and even talked some sports. nice fella.

jingledeath
January 17th 2010


7104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good stuff, i think i'll be looking into two more of his demos

rasputin
January 17th 2010


14544 Comments


most of his stuff is awesome

ThyCrossAwaits
January 17th 2010


3052 Comments


anybody got a link to a .zip file of this?

plutosatanclubhouse
January 17th 2010


142 Comments


pretty good review

gonna get this at some point

Wizard
January 17th 2010


19395 Comments


He has no albums. According to M.A everything he's released is demo, with two splits on the side. I'd definitely like a real copy of this, so if he did re-release this, that would be amazing.

After reading the review, this became clear to me as to why I can't find anything by this band. From what I've heard of his demo etc., I love it. Review is cold, grim, and captures the essence of snow capped black metal!



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