Review Summary: Don't kill yourself just yet...
There comes a point in every music elitists life when they find themselves listening to a lot of music that makes them feel like ***. Why? It's certainly not because they don't enjoy the music, on the contrary. When one's collection ends up stacked with classics, sometimes one needs to dive into the deep end of the music world, into the realm of bedroom black metal.
Take Angra Mainyu, the depressing as hell German band in question. If you're at all familiar with bare bones black metal, this band's only full length to date, Versunkenheit, won't hold any surprises. Stripped of all the bells and whistles that have made modern BM bands like Agalloch and Wolves In The Throne Room so successful, Angra Mainyu despite being quite a new band have maintained a very raw and desolate sound, reminiscent of old Darkthrone or Ulver's Nattens Madrigal. Given their classic approach to the genre, Angra Mainyu are not breaking any new ground with their brand of suicidal black metal, and as a result the music comes across as lethargic and uninspired (take 14 minute un-epic Lethargie).
Now given the obscurity of the band, I don't know if this is one person recording or a whole group, nor do I have the slightest clue about the lyrical themes, given none are published. However judging by the musical overtones present, I imagine it is the typical black metal affair of depression, misanthropy and death.
Now, without any knowledge of the lyrics or info on the band's backstory, there isn't much left to revel in other than the music itself; even the album art is so plain its hard to look at. So is the music itself any good? Yes and no. Even though the production is in trve fashion; paper thin and fuzzier than 70's pussy, the most glaring flaw with Versunkenheit is the fact that the music goes absolutely no where. Angra Mainyu keep it raw and simple, but unfortunately as far as songwriting goes, the band fails to compose anything of real interest.
Regarding the musicianship, well, it is raw black metal; technical skill doesn't bode well for any kvlt member of the genre lest they fall into the Deathspell Omega crowd. That's not saying the instrumentation is poor comparatively speaking, but its nothing special. The guitars hum out tremolo picked chords and strum out the occasional calm interlude, but can't write a memorable riff to save their lives.
With the sonic foundation laid, the vocals are the only thing left in question. The vocal work isn't bad per-se, but again, present nothing exciting. The ghastly rasps are consistent and do their job, and fortunately the band was smart and put them a little lower in the mix. Because of this, the instrument's cold atmospheres can remain the focal point, with the vocal work acting as an added ambiance.
So Angra Mainyu, possessing only average musicianship, have to write moving and powerful song's to keep the listener's attention, and unfortunately it From opening track onward, there is a balance between dark, thick tones and calmer breaks in the action that serve to keep the album from falling prey to monotony. Furthermore, the subtle build-ups the drummer inserts into the vast and hollow soundscapes that flow in and out like a rising tide maintain at least a modicum of intellectual development of a musical idea.
Angra Mainyu have crafted a dark, depressing and raw black metal album that will only serve as a subtly despressing waste of 42 minutes. Unless you REALLY love depressive black metal, skip this release.