Review Summary: A worthy successor to "Melancholie²" in just about every way
During the ice-cold grip of winter, Coldworld’s Melancholie²
sounds better than ever. Amidst the album’s haunting synths and crushing riffs, it’s not hard to see why it’s become a staple to many metal fanatics – especially during the most frigid months. Eight years following the release of that album, fans face a nagging anticipation with the release of Autumn
: Georg Börner’s warmly aggressive follow-up to the winter favorite. The good news is -- and there’s lot’s of it -- the musician has neither replicated the approach on Melancholie²
, nor has he abandoned his roots entirely. The gloomy and anguished tremolo riffs make a triumphant return, but everything has a decidedly brighter tone to it this time around. While his 2008 effort invited us to trek through miles of a desolate snowstorm, Autumn
has a much more celestial feel to it: like gazing up at the blackened, star-filled sky on a November night – and getting lost in it.
As Coldworld makes a triumphant comeback, the man behind its brilliance is no less of a mystery than he was eight years ago. The few words Börner has shared about Autumn
aren’t exactly rays of sunshine, hinting that the album is just the prerequisite to the inevitable winter and the coming death; but I don’t buy it. He may be convinced he’s strictly borrowing ideas from sorrow and despair, but there’s an undeniable sense of beauty to his music. Even as it drips with melancholy, there’s a hint of hope buried within its murky layers; ‘Nightfall’ might have the most optimistic melodies on the album, while ‘Autumn Shade’ latches on to a sense of longing with ethereal guest vocals sung over a hypnotizing guitar tone.
Sometimes all it takes is the right riff to carry a song, and ‘Nightfall’ fits this bill proudly. With an ear for powerful melodies, Börner injects his emotions into a piece that slowly builds and expands throughout its runtime – ending with delicate piano notes that shimmer like stars in the shrouded sky. These more hopeful moments are still met with a sense of eeriness that Coldworld are known for, as the frontman dabbles in subtle folk and post-rock leanings to make his most diverse set of songs yet. ‘The Wind and the Leaves’ is minimalistic in approach, with strong neofolk influences that thrust the listener into the foreboding intro to ‘Climax of Sorrow.’ The latter starts out with a bleak urgency, and contains some of the most pained and demented cries to ever escape the musician’s mouth. On the other hand, opener ‘Scars’ has some delicate and warm post-rock inspired guitar sections that lead into the rapid trems, giving the album a different flavor from the get-go. Whether it be the delicate use of strings that seamlessly blend into the diverse yet focused ‘Scars’, or the addition of clean vocals that add contrast to the astral reaches of ‘Void’, Autumn
is a worthy successor to Melancholie²
in just about every way. All of the album’s positive energy sneaks through even the densest layers, concluding with the ambient-influenced ‘Escape II’, which replicates the cryptic sound of a wolf crying at the moon through a thick fog.
Throughout its entirety, Autumn
constantly gives off a spacey vibe, feeling as boundless as the far-reaching depths of outer space. Moments of mourning cut through the broad skyline, but they’re met with an unmistakable sense of optimism and passion. Perhaps my descriptions paint a picture of an album that’s more optimistic than it really is – after all, Coldworld are still true to their black metal roots – but there’s a winning combination of sweet and sour that gives Autumn
rich contrast throughout its eight impressive tracks. Be it the ambient sections that replicate the slight chill of a fall’s night or the sky-high walls of sound that pummel their way through much of the album, the level of diversity on display here makes for a welcome expansion to Coldworld’s sound. Georg Börner is clearly a perfectionist, and his careful attention to detail breathes a level of subtlety and genuinely raw emotion into his exciting follow-up to Melancholie².
Whether or not it will be another eight years until we’re graced with another Coldworld release is anyone’s guess, but Autumn
is an expansive treat that gives us plenty of room to explore in the meantime. Not only that, but it exudes a powerful and convincing atmosphere that surpasses much of the genre - which is saying a lot considering the growing popularity of atmospheric black metal in recent years. This is the sound of eight years of passion and ideas finally being unleashed to the world, and it's nothing short of astounding.