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Der Weg Einer Freiheit - Noktvrn Award winner

Der Weg Einer Freiheit
Noktvrn
by Chris Hawkins at 17 November 2021, 7:05 PM

It is almost cliched to speak in this day and age of how glorious the German Metal tradition is and the same can be said for its corner of the Black Metal world. Though not as plentiful as its Scandinavian neighbors, there are nonetheless a plethora of bands spanning the gamut of darkness from BETHLEHEN and DESASTER to IMPERIUM DEKADENZ and SECRETS OF THE MOON to the subject of this review: DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT. While the band’s ethos lines up more with the latter examples, theirs is a sound that is quite difficult to pigeonhole. Perhaps no wards could better encapsulate their appeal. “Noktvrn” is the band’s fifth full-length and marks yet another milestone as the band have returned with a voraciously ambitious effort. Read on to find out why this is the year’s best Black Metal album.

The opening track, “Finisterre II,” a soft-spoken intro, gradually fades into the first proper track, “Monument”. One becomes overwhelmed with the scene of a funeral procession. Heads solemnly bowed; the grief-filled attendants line up to impart their last respects. The funeral motif is coincidentally repeated with the bellowing organ that signals the end of sixth track, “Gegen das Licht”. The 1:27 mark is dangerously deceptive for at 2:00, an explosion occurs. One would have never expected a clean guitar melody to herald such a violently volatile expression of Black Metal fury, yet such is the case. A frantic form of Black Metal takes hold, one that is still soaked in myriad emotional undertones. The breadth and depth of the music is unparalleled and unrivalled even in the most elite circles. The all-out mayhem that ensues at the four-minute mark showcases the bipedal power of the drummer to blast with an old school intensity within a modern context. The denouement of the song emphatically resumes the vibe of the pensive, yet daunting beginning and then simply electrifies it. In this moment it is impossible not to be reminded of classic ANATHEMA combined with most potent Black Metal.

Am Rande der Dunkelheit” follows and after an aggressive beginning features brilliantly layered textures of Black Metal guitars, delightfully decadent and seductively inviting. The 3:47 mark evokes a moment of decision. Should one jump? We all know what DLR would say! The anxiety of anticipation is replicated musically as the double bass work mirrors the rumble of one’s stomach paired with the runaway beating of the heart. Parts as such shows the band, though expert in crafting often complex songs, still retain the foresight to know when to let a song truly open up. Throughout this album, the music benefits from this heavy-handed reliance upon dynamics.

The production of “Noktvrn” is truly enormous. Beginning with the drums, an organic and live feel is established yet there is a constant machine-like element, cold and precise. Unlike other Black Metal bands, DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT thankfully refuses to bury the bass and instead uses it to both intensify the guitar melodies and provide a constant and precise pulse that deeply resonates within. The guitars are a trio of unique sounds.  The cleans are pristine and gorgeous with a natural chiming, shimmering fullness. For a rhythm sound, the band employs a volatilely virile Black Metal stance, rapaciously militant, yet their leads are much more adventurous. During some moments, they exude a haze of dystopian psychedelic a bleeding tones of SISTERS OF MERCY while at others evoking the strikingly haunting cry of a lone banshee echoing across a frozen bay. Undoubtedly, the production of “Noktvrn” is one of the most towering, impressive efforts heard in a long time.

The fourth track, “Immortal,” marks the album’s moment of contention. A lonely bass line signals the opening. Clean vocals combine with a guitar bathed in reverb cry impending devastation. A desolate and bleak feeling of foreboding precedes the 2:00 mark when the heaviness is finally unleashed. Such a stark contrast is the modus operandi of DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT. Alternating between two polar opposite approaches thoroughly ingrains the melodies in one’s head. Not only is the heavier section more impactful, but the introspective verse section retains that much more depth. Transcending mere Black Metal, strains of old-school Goth influence such as the washy sound of the guitar toward the latter part of the song as well as a pervading sense of an all-consuming, mind-altering change approaching converge to form the song’s backbone. Just how such a crossroads is defined depends upon the listener.

Noktvrn” is therefore a monumental triumph. Just when it seemed like the well had run dry for producing challenging, engrossing albums, thankfully fate has intervened. In short, this is an album for those wanting more. DER WEG EINER FREIET is not only waving the flag of hate but is also advancing the troops, going over the top to decimate the enemy. Such a rich album is chocked full of unique references and influences for one to ceaselessly expound upon, but the bottom line simply is that the band is comprise of der übermenschen of Black Metal.  Yes, this is the best Black Metal album of the year, though it also claims the top prize ubiquitously for the entirety of Metal as well.

Songwriting:  9
Originality: 10
Memorability:  9
Production:  10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Finisterre II
2. Monument
3. Am Rande der Dunkelheit
4. Immortal
5. Morgen
6. Gegen das Licht
7. Haven
Lineup:
Nikita Kamprad - Guitars, Vocals, Keyboards
Nico Rausch - Guitar
Nico Ziska - Bass
Tobias Schuler – Drums
Record Label: Season of Mist
     


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