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Ellende - Lebensnehmer

by Martin Knap at 04 March 2019, 7:57 PM

There is a lot of interesting blackened Metal coming out of Austria and Germany that I feel has somewhat of a distinct sound. I’m talking about bands on the Art Of Propaganda roster (HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY and its associated project KARG, ANOMALIE, and FIRTAN) or German bands KING APATHY – who have put out another amazing album this year – and the associated project BONJOUR TRISTESSE, MANTAR or DOWNFALL OF GAIA. Some of them straight-up Post-Black Metal (HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY, KING APATHY), some have Suicidal-Depressive Black Metal leanings (BONJOUR TRISTESSE) and others – like ELLENDE, whose third LP “Lebensnehmer” I’m reviewing here – lean towards the atmospheric side, but underneath the stylistic differences I feel that there are some commonalities. Although it can be pretty raw, their sound is more melodic than Second Wave Black Metal, it has often intricate guitar work and drumming – it doesn’t shy away from a solos or drum fills. Some of these bands are influenced by Hardcore and Sludge, the more atmospheric ones are influenced by Folk/Atmospheric US Black Metal bands like AGALLOCH or the so called Cascadian Black Metal sound in general. Their music combines rawness and emotion which is, I think, their winning formula.

ELLENDE is a one-man project that debuted in 2013 with a self-titled LP. “Lebensnehmer” has seven songs on it, two of them instrumental, that’s a total of 50 minutes of war-themed doom and misery. “Augenblick,” that comes after a dramatic intro, has an intense opening with a melodic tremolo picked riff and blast-beat, but for the most part – like most of the songs here – has a middle tempo and a steady marching presence. There is a mellow, melancholic middle section with shimmering synths, after which comes the climax of the song with fast riffing and blast-beats. The next song “Die Wege,” is a bit more animated then the first one, but it sounds a bit generic to me; I’m not sure if it needed to be seven minutes long, which is not a good sign. “Ein Stueck Verzweiflung” is a kind of mellow, atmospheric, AGALLOCH-esque instrumental that doesn’t spark too much joy in me also, and unfortunately it’s the better one on the album – I will discuss the other one separately.

Fortunately the album gets better from here: “Der Blick Wird Leer” (“The Eyes Go Blank”) is a sorrowful song charged with gut-wrenching emotions. It opens with a clear guitar melody followed by a short intense section. The main body of the song has a middle tempo, the riff is quite memorable and there are some very tasteful guitar leads. “Liebkosung des Eiswinds” is an instrumental that just doesn’t do it for me. I’m not the guy who hates on anything that smells of sentimentality on a Metal album, but this just doesn’t connect with me. The piece is well arranged, the sound of it is nice, but I feel like I’m listening to a generic “study/chill/relax” beat (I’m exaggerating, but this is the impression that I get). “Du waerst eine schoene Leiche” (“You’d Be a Beautiful Corpse”) on the other hand, is ELLENDE at it’s best: it is an emotional, gut-wrenching, cathartic song. It has simple, catchy riffs, standout guitar leads, also a great middle section with a cembalo arrangement. The over nine minutes long “Atemzug” brings the album to a conclusion quite nicely. It goes from a bit animated to more middle tempo and the ending is mellow and melancholic.

Lebensnehmer” has excellent material on it.  “Der Blick Wird Leer” or “Du waerst eine schoene Leiche” are excellent songs, but there are dull moments too. There is variation in terms of mood and atmosphere and the album flows really well. The guitar work and drumming are excellent as is the production, which is not raw but also not too polished and suits the music well. It’s an album worth replaying for sure but my rating has to reflect the fact that some parts are not exactly zingy.

Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Intro
2. Augenblick
3. Die Wege
4. Ein Stück Verzweiflung
5. Der Blick wird leer
6. Liebkosung des Eiswinds
7. Du wärst eine schöne Leiche
8. Atemzug

Lukas Gosch - Guitars (rhythm & acoustic), Bass, Drums, Vocals, Piano
Record Label: AOP Records


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