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Melkor – Irrlicht

by Erika Kuenstler at 25 January 2015, 3:08 PM

J. R. R. Tolkien has unwittingly done much to shape the Metal scene, inspiring everything from whole genres such as Tolkien Black Metal, all the way down to song lyrics revolving around Tolkien’s realms, à la SUMMONING. Not least of all, his books have provided the monikers for a slew of bands, ranging from CARACH ANGREN all the way to MORGUL and MORGOTH. Another character of his that has had a horde of Black Metal projects clamouring for the name is Melkor, an ill-reputed antagonist in The Silmarillion, with no less than four Black Metal bands laying claim to this name. One such band is a German solo project, which has just seen the release of the second full-length album “Irrlicht” at the end of last year in celebration of the project’s 10th anniversary.

Fading in on distorted guitar melodies, the album starts off with “Spiegelwand”. The vocals are a rough gravelly rasp that takes you by surprise, counterbalancing the guitar melodies which oscillate between mesmerising melodies and lilting lullaby-like passages. However, this is a relatively mediocre opening track, leaving one in need of a stronger and bolder song. And exactly this is delivered with “Die Welle erneuert sich”. In its opening strains, a truly riveting ethereal tapestry of melancholy and despair is spun together, spellbinding you into an almost trance-like state. However, this fragile tranquility is soon shattered by a wreaking burst of anguished vocals and driving percussive. The title track “Irrlicht” sees the album take a much darker and threatening tone, whilst some of the tone progressions here are a bit jarring and off-key, giving everything an unsettling undertow. Clocking in at almost 12 minutes, this song nevertheless goes through a series of twists and turns that keep it interesting and new. And just as things are starting to get a bit too peaceful “Pangaea” bursts in with a cold aggression that instantly snaps you back to reality, whilst “In den welken Wäldern” has a much earthier and organic feel to it. “Opferlamm” on the other hand has an agonising and dreary undercurrent which totally desolates you. However, this is countered by the final track, “The Great Defender”, which incorporates a slightly more uplifting tone, ensuring that the album returns full circle.

With a total running time of just over an hour, this is a wonderfully varied album that focuses on weaving together different elements into haunting atmospheres. On the downside however, the recording and mastering process is a bit messy, with the recording gear being pushed beyond its limits in certain parts. This is really a shame, as the album has so much potential to be spectacular. Still, this is a gem hidden in the rough, and opinions are likely to be polarised on this one. You’ll either hate it because of its coarseness, or you’ll look past all the flaws and imperfections and see it for its true promise.

3 Star Rating

1. Spiegelwand
2. Die Welle erneuert sich
3. Irrlicht
4. Pangaea
5. In den welken Wäldern
6. Des Berges Schweigen
7. Opferlamm
8. The Great Defender
Patrick Baumann – all instruments/vocals
Record Label: Independent


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