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Paysage D'Hiver – Geister

Paysage D'Hiver
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 21 March 2021, 7:32 AM

PAYSAGE D'HIVER is a one man black metal band from Switzerland, from mastermind musician Wintherr. Since its inception in 1997, the band has released many, many demos and split albums. However, it wasn’t until last year that Wintherr put out a full length under this name, with the excellent "Im Wald." Now this year sees the second full length album release in the form of "Geister."

I'll have to be honest here: the first few times I listened to this album, I didn’t like it. Hate would be much too strong a word to use but, like I just said, I didn't like it. This album is a prime example of why a reviewer should listen to an album many times before tackling the review. Because as I listened more and more, the album slowly began to grow on me.

Is it a masterpiece? Has it blown me away? Is it as good or better than “Im Wald?” The answer to all those questions is a no. But I now find it an enjoyable listen. The main problem was my preconceived notions based upon "Im Wald." That album balanced rawness with clever use of more ambient pieces and layered textures. “Geister” is a bit different.

"Geister," has many layers too but they are unfortunately buried under some of the most terrible production and mixing values I have heard thus far this year. I mean, it is bad. I understand this is raw black metal and the way it sounds is done on purpose within the confines of the genre in which it is presented. However, that doesn't mean I have to enjoy it. And I don't.

The overall sound has that “recorded in a basement” quality which isn't good anyway but the mixing is just off. The vocals, which are very well executed by the way, are waaaaaaaaaay too damn loud. They overpower everything in every song. The bass is so buried it might as well not exist and much of the drums are muffled as well. Without some of the outside the box ideas of the previous full length present, the ears are left to focus on these less than desirable qualities. And it, initially, killed the album for me.

But over time, my ears became adjusted to the grit and grime. I fought my way through it and pieces here and there grabbed me. The album really takes off at the fifth track "Äschä" and from there these pieces began to shift around and take form.
Simply put, underneath this mess is an album full of well done song writing and musicianship.

The album begins with “Schattä,” howling wind and screaming just beyond, like some sort of ethereal demonic ghost.  The song is rather atmospheric, the guitars being used as a sort of force of nature like the wind from earlier. Around the two and a half minute mark the song switches gears for heavier styles of riffing and screaming so intense I'd be shocked if Wintherr didn't go hoarse during the recordings.

The next few songs are serviceable but when "Äschä" hits, the album finds its stride and rarely lets up. This particular track has some great riffs and very faint hints of a cold unwelcoming atmosphere that hits the right spot against the guitars. "Wärzä," and its beginning riff is dark and pulverizing–perfect for the blackened screams that ride atop them and the double bass further explores how hard this song hits.  The mid portion pushes against the extremes of the song especially when the snare drum is kicked up a few notches.

"Gruusig" is a beast of a track that feels unstoppable—like the rush of an oncoming flood to which there is nothing you can do. The drumming pushes the rest of the song onto you, all of weight threatening to break free. The middle part of the song is weirdly melodic, almost alien in tone. My opinion of this album will quite possibly change over time but at some point I have to meet my deadline and turn it in. So as of now "Geister" is a rewarding album with a lot of depth. If you can get past the production you'll find an album that gets better as it goes along.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 4

3 Star Rating

1. Schattä
2. Bluet
3. Wüetig
4. Undä
5. Äschä
6. Wärzä
7. Anders
8. Schtampfä
9. Gruusig
10. Schuurig
11. Geischtr
Wintherr - Everything
Record Label: Kunsthall Produktieon


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