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Hohenstein - Weisser Hirsch

Weisser Hirsch
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 30 April 2020, 1:37 PM

HOHENSTEIN is a German Atmospheric Black Metal band who are releasing their first full length, “Weisser Hirsch,” this year.  Their overall sound is a bit different from other Atmo bands as they are more riff based than much of their brethren.  There aren’t a lot of synths presented here, long melodic, epic passages, or forays into clean vocals or progressive structures—they eschew most of the elements of Atmo/Post Black Metal and keep it rather focused yet depressive.

But therein lies the problem.  Atmospheric anything is good because of the adventurous nature of the songs and the unconventional compositions.  “Weisser Hirsch,” is made up of slow, ponderous songs wrapped up in a depressive atmosphere but it doesn’t do much with it.  I do appreciate them being more guitar based though.  So many Atmo bands often forget that and sometimes I wonder why some of them even have a guitar player.  So HOHENSTEIN worship of the almighty riff is commendable but unfortunately also not very interesting.

Kriegsvintar,” opens with the sounds of battle, completing with war drum and the clashing of swords.  This is kind of an odd opening because it builds up energy and momentum that doesn’t get used.  The following track, “Sundalschlacht,” is mid paced and doesn’t carry on the energetic fervor of the intro.  The main riff is decent enough but it just gets played over and over until its monotonous with a very warm out welcome.  Around the 3:25 mark a nice respite appears in the form of some clean guitars but it the song quickly slides back into drudgery.

My biggest complaint with this album that so much of it feels like it is going to explode, go somewhere exciting, but it never actually gets there. the payoff never happens. “Ahnengrab,” furious vocal attack and mid-tempo riffs made the song sound like it was climbing the mountain to reach the highest peak but instead it gets about halfway there, sets up camp and never leaves.  Much like with “Sundalschlacht,” the riffs are good but they just don’t go anywhere interesting.

Brohn,” is a nice instrumental of clean instrumentation but by itself it doesn’t really work because it’s in the middle of all these other songs when it feels like it instead should have some of its elements woven into those songs instead of getting a centerpiece of its own. The best tracks are “Runenkrieger,” and “Algiz In Brand,” because there are shorter songs, both under five minutes in length.  But that basically just means I have to listen to the same riffs over and over for less time so I’m not sure if the songs are actually good or if I’m just thankful I don’t have to be subjected to the monotony as long.

The album does have some bright spots, however.  Both the drum and vocal performances are actually pretty good—the drumming is infinitely more interesting than the riffs. The guitars aren’t bad in of themselves—they have good ideas but I think the overall song writing doesn’t allow much to happen.  This album isn’t outright terrible but I can’t see myself ever going back to it, especially with some many amazing black metal albums having already been released and the promise of more on the horizon.

Songwriting: 4
Musicianship: 4
Memorability: 4
Production: 4

2 Star Rating

1. Kriegsvintar
2. Sundalschlacht
3. Gruner Altar
4. Ahnengrab
5. Brohn
6. Ewige Flamme
7. Runenkrieger
8. Algiz in Brand
9. Neue Ufer
Caedem – Drums
Cernunnos – Guitars, Vocals
Record Label: Purity Through Fire Records


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