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Bellgrave – Panzerherz

by Anton Sanatov at 21 May 2016, 5:04 PM

Sometimes, when we get dragged into the darkness, we forget that even the shadows dance. It's not easy to find elegant curvature in the muck of dark matter, but if one employs enough innovation, much like the diamonds that were at first layered with dirt, the heart of darkness too can hide an artery of light. And it is too often that the stereotypical expectations of a chosen genre can bury the band, drowning its creative drivetrain in the mud. Alas, BELLGRAVE rides on and finds its way in the gloom with "Panzerherz", a grim Metal offering that is bound to enlighten.

Much like the voice of lead vocalist/guitarist Ulf, this record originates in the gut and ascends with every track; this is darkness that is born within. Whilst the post-intro opener "Auferstanden" may offer little more then some moving albeit formulaic riffing, the album soon claws to the surface. Like a precious stone it gets chipped into shape by numbers in the likes of “Größer all der Tod" "Regen" and "Todesfluge" which feature huge, chanting choruses and melodic riff play that would typically be shunned by the reapers of alloys; the second part of the latter track even bears some resemblance to FOO FIGHTER's "Everlong" - an association I never though would make its way into a Death Metal review.

Needless to say, this is not you typical Death Metal record. "Panzerherz" features such melodic diversity that I even feel the need to disagree with the genre tag. Righteously, the band associates with the morose subject matter of their given field - I say, even though the language barrier prevents me from comprehending the context of the songs - but just as the roots of a tree spread, their musical approach appears to do the same.

By applying traditional songs structures, the tracks remain appealing whilst at the same time heavy and down-to-earth, and the folksy, 'revolutionary party' hymns of such songs as "Schienewolf" give the album a very rustic yet wholehearted feel. And as the record spreads its growing branches, each one blossoms with surprising fruit; taking for example "Morgenrot" and the title track "Panzerherz". Whilst both are as brutal as a Scandinavian winter, they also feature curious sparkles of chord play (listen to the bridge towards the end of "Morgenrot" or the captivating outro "Nach dem Tod" for reference) which somehow even bear the essence of the sonic dimensions employed in Post-Punk. And above all, even amidst all the viscous eclecticism, there is simply a very genuine, Hard Rock vibe to this record, and tracks like the magnificent "Horizons" have sure potential of driving entire crowds to lift their boots of beer and chant along.

The production is adequate, albeit a little dry. Whilst it is commendable that BELLGRAVE retain a stripped-down sound, some technical embellishments can really supplement this band's musical capacity. The vocals, whilst entrancing and thick as molasses, often appear slightly too prominent in the mix; though having said that, through this arrangement Ulf's voice truly engulfs the record with its deep, gory crooning.

This is certainly one of those interactions when you don't have to understand the words to feel the sentiment. "Panzerherz" bears a thick skin but is full of soulful insights. It is a solid independent record that glistens even amidst the obscurity of its domain.
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

  1. Auferstanden
  2. Leidenskind
  3. Morgenrot
  4. Panzerherz
  5. Größer als der Tod
  6. Regen
  7. Schienenwolf
  8. Todesflüge
  9. Horizont
  10. Tanz auf meinem Grab
  11. Nach dem Tod
Alex – Guitar
T-Low – Bass
Lars – Schlachzeuch
Ulf – Guitar/Vocals
Record Label: 7Hard Records


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Edited 23 March 2023

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