Valborg
Zentrum


4.0
excellent

Review

by Robert Davis CONTRIBUTOR (280 Reviews)
May 19th, 2019 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Even more aggressive and depressing than the last album, but also more experimental and versatile. A stunning latest effort from Valborg sees the band delve further into the void.

Praised by none other than Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost for being "unique", Germany's Valborg have maintained a steady descent into the world of psychological menace, and all-out misery. 2017's excellent Endstrand featured a slightly more streamlined focus on songwriting, something which thankfully didn't take away from all the threatening industrial stomps and atmospheric darkness the album presented. Two years later, and things seem to have become even more grim with the release of latest album Zentrum, an effort which is shorter but no less intense than its predecessor.

Considering Christian Kolf's recent forays into alternative musical territory (most notably the experimental, ambient side project Owl which is fantastic in its own right), you'd be forgiven for thinking that Zentrum had settled down a bit and made the listener feel a little more comfortable. Absolutely not the case, as the album's first two songs have proved. Opener "Rote Augen" is a menacing, bitter concoction of raw, gritty riff work and thunderous Gothic misery, stamping its influence all over your eardrums and threatening to drag you down into ever bleaker territory. Kolf's vocal work is every bit as passionate as the instrumentation, screaming, growling and soaring along to the song's otherwise intrusive themes of hopelessness and terror. Then comes "Alphakomet", a song so powerful and excruciatingly depressing the listener needs to crawl back out of the proverbial hole they've just been pulled into. In all seriousness, it's a real monster. Pulsating Gothic industrial beats stab at the recording, the jagged riff work grating alongside the foreboding atmosphere and thus shedding any nuance of melody or harmony. It's every bit as tense as you'd expect but it's multi-layered focus means that a song like this is hard to dissect, such is the difficulty of trying to pigeonhole Valborg into any particular sub-genre.

Zentrum's mid-section focuses more on the experimental side of things, but with no less appreciation of making an emotional impact. "Anomalie", for example, is akin to the most ambient moments of Celtic Frost's Monotheist, because of its slow albeit seething ventures into industrial territory. The rhythm here is particularly mesmerising but builds into something memorable and almost accessible, abruptly ripped apart by the second half's riff work. "Nahtod" and "Nonnenstern" are undoubtedly two of the most passionate and soulful songs in Valborg's discography. Whereas the former presents a repetitive focus on certain lyrics and thus bringing a slight case of insanity into the mix, the latter features a clean vocal presence courtesy of Jan Buckard, who himself allows melancholy to infiltrate an otherwise extreme and aggressive sound. Both songs however explore different tones, even if the same subject matter is approached. "Nahtod" naturally builds on its vocal presence from harmonic to almost brutal (black metal influence apparent as well) and "Nonnenstern" is more of an exercise in storytelling, a personal approach made all the more vivid thanks to those industrial stabs in the background threatening to take over.

Zentrum's consistency allows Valborg's ideas and sense of musical exploration to take flight, even if that flight is about to be swallowed whole by a sheer magnitude of depressing themes. This is what Valborg have been writing about since day one however, and their musical presence has only progressed and powered through any sense of dwindling laziness, resulting in albums as versatile as this. It won't be for everyone, but the few that can appreciate how Valborg have experimented with their sound without falling into a trap of complacency will get something out of this. It's undoubtedly Valborg's finest effort, and one of the best albums of its kind this year.



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user ratings (6)
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3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2019


2600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Again, it's been a while so writing may be rusty here. c/c welcome as always.

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Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2019


9615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Funny, just downloaded this onto my playlist and now I see your review here.

Will check in later

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CaptainDooRight
May 19th 2019


4091 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

eh yo Nocte just a heads up there’s a little blood coming down your cheek no big deal prolly just a little shaving nick all good here’s a paper towel

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Hawks
May 19th 2019


71857 Comments


Damn this sounds awesome.

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Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2019


9615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Is it like really noticeable Cap? Or should I get a doctor's note

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
May 19th 2019


2600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hawks if you enjoyed this one, check out "Endstrand" too.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2019


9615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm back, yeah this owns.

osmark86
May 21st 2019


9038 Comments


I hope they released this on Valborg's day

guitarded_chuck
May 21st 2019


17890 Comments


thats a rad cover

DungeonBoy
May 21st 2019


6095 Comments


I tried to get into this but found it stale, mechanical, repetitive, emotionless... which I guess is what they are going for soo.. 5/5 execution, but like a 2.5 for enjoyment. Good review though

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eirinn
May 23rd 2019


12 Comments


Brilliant album! Never heard of them, thanks for pointing it out! It has a sort of type o negative vibe, but their sound is much, much rawer. Falls between 3.5 and 4, maybe closer to the latter.

Maudlinofthewell
May 27th 2019


8 Comments


Valborg is probably the most grandmotherly name imaginable here in Norway :D

Lichtbringer
June 13th 2019


56 Comments


This band sure is hard to love. I will say that cover is fucking amazing and the lyrics are seriously demented/funny/disturbing.



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