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Ahnengrab — Schattenseiten

by Robert Amer at 11 December 2018, 6:09 AM

Metal, like every genre of music, has certain qualities that make it distinguishable, and some characteristics become more pronounced as sub-genres establish their niches. Musical conventions are shuffled around to create an evolving product to be preserved as a snapshot throughout an artist or band’s career. Artists can struggle to remain consistent once they achieve initial success, and they can go through trial and error to find or reinvent their sound for a multitude of reasons: chemistry, inspiration, expectations, processes, trends, life, etc. It is an elusive balance to find, and inevitably, releases vary in public and critical opinion.

In their third release, “Schattenseiten,” German black/pagan metal band AHNENGRAB presents an album that has moments of infectious energy, ethereal acoustic passages, and compositional fluidity. There are also moments in which transitions seem clunky and musical identity lacks definition and cohesion. One of the most consistent songs is “Des Weltenend’ Melancholie” in which one will find obvious black/folk metal characteristics. It begins with an attention-grabbing and dissonant acoustic folk introduction before the song continues on a well-paved musical road with recognizable elements, like shrieks atop dissonant, tremolo guitars and present melodies in the guitar in other sections. Another selection that has a well-defined, yet distinct sound is “Phoenicis”. It has hints of a post-metal vibe akin to SOLSTAFIR with a prevalence of atmospheric riffs and spacey resolutions. Two other tracks that flow nicely are the instrumentals “…when paths separate” and “Sternenmeer”.

In comparison to the stronger tracks, others sound as if they might have been written at a different time and/or with different personnel. For example, “Aurora,” the opening track, begins with an acoustic part that seems odd considering the other clean parts on the album with its open chords. Out of that, the song progresses into a heavy section that can be ascribed to a folk metal song, bringing in the vocals. The song appears to make brief visits to Gothenburg with parts that evoke IN FLAMES following the first vocal lines. These departures add an injection of energy throughout the album in various degrees of effect but seem displaced considering the black and folk elements that are primarily drawn upon.

Music is an art of countless possibilities. Rules and ideals abound in each individual’s mental library informing their taste, and the opinion of anybody can ultimately be questioned. That said, flow and musical gestures that assemble an identity are vital—even if there is a proverbial wrecking ball being taken to conventional ideas. AHNENGRAB show glimpses of innovative songwriting but many of the more unconventional sub-genre crossings need to be integrated in a more seamless and aesthetically pleasing manner.

Songwriting: 4
Originality: 7
Memorability: 4
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Aurora
2. Katharsis
3. K-37c
4. Phoenicis
5. Rad der Zeit
6. Herbstbeginn
7. Urknall
8. Des Weltenend’ Melancholie
9. …when paths separate
10. Sternenmeer
Christoph H. — Guitar
Tom W. — Drums
Tom J. — Bass
Tibor C. — Guitar
Christoph “Fenris” L. — Vocals
Record Label: Einheit Produktionen


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