IV: Ozymandias



by BlondeGuardian USER (2 Reviews)
August 16th, 2019 | 2 replies

Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Prepare to be transported to the goth dimension

In 1991, some Germans with a shared love for electronic music and medieval LARPing formed a band. They released an exceedingly goffik song, "Ad Mortem Festinamus", which quickly became a club hit thanks to its novelty value. One original member (Ernst Horn) left after the second album, which led to a somewhat more mainstream-friendly change in direction.

They are described as "electro-medieval", which applies to the lyrical content (which is mostly taken from old poems in middle German, Latin, and other archaic dialects), but the songs flit between that and something more like electro-Baroque. To give you an idea of what that means, I'll go over the band's composition.

At the time of this album, the band had 3 members: vocalist Syrah, grandpa's instruments player Michael Popp, and keyboardist/guitarist Philipp Groth. Syrah has a trained, classical mezzo-soprano voice. You could call it operatic, but her delivery is pleasant, unforced, and contains no vocal gymnastics. Popp and guest musicians provide the "medieval" sound with string and woodwind instruments that you usually only see in Renaissance fairs or in the hands of donkey-riding goat herders in the Caucasus. Groth plays synthesized versions of the more expensive of grandpa's instruments (namely harpsichord), and provides the "electro" part with all manner of synthetic beats and other noises. In fact, some of the songs contain such abrasive segments that I wonder if he actually wanted to be in an industrial band. Popp and Groth also act as vocalists, and they have vocal ranges as wide and soaring as Lou Reed's. OK, that was unfair; their parts are all spoken word and monk-like chanting.

Thanks to the electronic sounds and some compositional choices, the band avoids the usual medieval and folk band problem of merely emulating the styles of a time that the artist never lived in, without bringing anything new to the table. Some tracks are even downright poppy in structure and tempo; "Blac", "Cupido", and "Amor Volat" are bound to stay in the head. Now, I DO have something negative to say: the rest of the album is almost nothing but depressive, molasses-paced ambient songs with little to no distinctive melody. That's not a bad thing if you want a soundtrack for goffik brooding, or to put you to sleep, but the songs are not individually memorable. There's also a serviceable cover of Dido's Lament, sans recitative section, to add to its baroque cred. To comment further would require me to be a classical music nerd.

In conclusion, this probably isn't going to rock your world, but there is a distinctive artistic vision and passion to be found.

user ratings (3)

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Contributing Reviewer
August 17th 2019


Solid first review. Felt a bit flowchart-esque but that's only a minor gripe. The music and the album as a whole are described quite well in a short time span. Hope you keep contributing some writing, especially to more obscure stuff like this.

August 17th 2019


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Thank you. I'll be glad to provide comment pages for my lesser-known favorites when I can.

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