Review Summary: Another outstanding World War I-themed black metal record... Welcome to the Somme.
Black metal often drew inspiration from war. Not just from the “war” against beliefs or religion, but from literal warfare as well. In the past few years, just around the centenary of the First World War’s outbreak, we could witness the increment in the numbers of metal bands with great interest in this world-shaking event. California’s Minenwerfer is one the earliest flagships of this thematic wave, especially if we’re talking about WWI black metal. While the band has been active since 2007, their great breakthrough came only in 2019, with the release of their cathartic third album, Alpenpässe
. In that release they took a bigger step away from their previous primitive, aggressive approach (think of the essence of 'war metal' here), and introduced post-metal, progressiveness and neofolk into their repertoire. And now, circa three years later they’ve unleashed their latest beast to the world.
feels a bit like a natural continuation of the previous full-length, however they picked up where they left at the dark and crushing end of Alpenpässe
(like “Withered Tombs” & “Mg 08 / 15” was) and they focused exclusively on this kind of furious and impulsive sonical terror, just like stepping into the trenches of Somme mid-battle. The melancholic and glorious moments which were painted by the post-metal phases are just fading memories now… only the explosions, gunshots and the senseless massacre remained, and now only these are filling out all our senses. Minenwerfer’s duo used basically every single element to perfectly capture this overall terrifying atmosphere. For example, in Feuerwalze
, many dissonant tremolos and unsettling droning guitar screams and solos can be heard (I sense Slayer influences here, just listen to "Eternal Attrition" for example)
, plus the record takes back just very rarely from the tearing tempo - I think many of us believe that Marduk’s infamous lighting fast black metal assault, Panzer Division Marduk
was a key influence for them. Moreover, the album builds intentionally on the endlessly marching blast beats and the bass lines to maximize the record’s militant feeling. For example, the sound of the drums resemble the head-shattering clunks of machine guns and the sharp noises of continuous impacts of grenades and bullets. The bass enhances this grinding feeling, and interestingly this instrument bears a distinguished role in dictating the record’s flow along with the guitars, bringing some exceptionally groovy and melodic bass lines to the mix. And let’s not forget about Generalfeldmarschall Kriegshammer’s
haunting throat-killer screams, as it makes the entire cruel warlike vibe feel complete, sounding like the shrieks of a tormented ghost from a blood-soaked battlefield.
is another fine piece in Minenwerfer’s ever growing and improving catalog; an album dedicated to the soundscape of the Great War turns in the form of riff-onslaughts, recreating the truly heavy, terrifying and grinding atmosphere of war.