Review Summary: Liars
Upon finally getting into this stuff after years of trying, I was told by a few choice members from the pleasant and sunny-eyed forums of Rate Your Music (RYM) that all melodic black metal sounds the same. They went on to tell me, amongst many other polite and appropriate things, that I would be better off sticking to the mid-90s for the choicest harvest that the subgenre has to offer: Dissection
, and Satyricon
, to name the staples. Further, they went on to say, and I loosely quote (with some words removed to protect the innocent), “Anything after the passing of Windir’s Terje Bakken is shit. Do us all a favor in your search, though, and grow some balls. lol.
. Well, while perhaps being an effort doomed to failure, this review is dedicated to the kind and benevolent purists mentioned above, and especially those casual metal fans that may often feel melodic black metal is indeed as dead as its festering cousin of the death variety, too. Be polite, and let Arypnie’s 16
have its chance, please. I know you’ve all been betrayed by melodic black metal bands like this, albums like this, and, as against me
as the tide may already be, reviews like this, too. But I petition that you, my readers (and my mockers), will not be listening to the same fourth generation mello-black-cum-keyboard-humper of an album again. The first proper track of 16
, “Der tote Trakt”, should make this quite evident.
A ridiculously succulent mid-tempo guitar riff that will stay in your minds long after listening to 16
arises out of the legendary frontman of the now defunct Nocte Obducta
, Torsten Hirsch. It’s not with any degree of hyperbole that I say extremely catchy riffs arise (or later return) constantly throughout the album’s length, in a way that makes it very easy for listeners to map out the album’s contents and not get lost in what’s going on. These riffs build in a progressive-like nature, often – and in effect, many of the songs extend well past the six-minute mark: they feature reprieves and even acoustic-based instrumental interludes to keep the monotony at a low-constant level throughout 16
There is a certain atmospheric quality to 16
, however, so do not make the mistake of going into the album’s presence with the assumption of hearing only guitars, drums, and vocal screeches. Keyboards are present, but they are used with care and responsibility: Hirsh has done this kind of thing before, and he makes sure that the light backing vocals and keyboards that are intended to harmonize with the guitar melodies do just that, no more. Their presence is put to the most use for the entrance and leaving of an ambient atmosphere on both the intro and concluding tracks, “Figur 109-3” and “Figur 109-1”, respectively, and as well as on the title track, the longest and most diverse song on the album.
Hirsch enters the title track with a driving riff and his powerful Thomas Vaananen-esque bark (ex-Thyrfing
vocalist) and goes on to chase memorable, distinct riff after memorable, distinct riff, up until the song’s rest and reprieve that comes by distant-sounding keyboard effects. Of course, the song eventually opens its gates once more, and the project’s leader roars back into action in a way that’s now expected of Hirsch, his bark and bite grooving waves of his guitar riffs, both catchy and mind-consuming for listeners. It’s this type of comfort zone that 16
rests on throughout its admittedly staggering seventy-minute length, but it is one that gives listeners a taste of melodic black metal that isn’t just another taste of typical melodic black metal: it’s memorable, engaging, and easy to grasp, sticking out profoundly and pleasantly in the crowd. You see, melodic black metal clearly isn’t dead just yet, guys, and if you run into some of my friends over at RYM that say otherwise, please direct them to this review:
“Bastards, you lied.