Monday, July 15, 2013

Draumar - Gebirge [2012]

Believe it or not, my best findings over the last 2-3 years have been in the field of black metal more than anything else: thrash had already lost its revivalist touch after 2009, and few records besides the olden, antique dimensions of death metal interest me, and there were only a handful of stupendous releases on that department, the remainder being a mostly consistent, but unabashedly generic metric chock of bands sprouting out of pretty much anywhere around the globe - thus, some of the most enthralling releases of recent years belong mostly to black metal. Somehow, black metal musicians are able to achieve salvation, or rather, musical incarceration through their own predilections, incorporating an enormously vast choice of sounds into traditional parameters, ranging from folk metal influences to ambient preferences to progressive rock, and while this rule does obviously apply for all black metal bands, it does take into account a considerable number of acts. Of these refreshingly savvy acts I've found Germany's Draumar to be one of the most beautiful and atmospheric, through the usage of orchestral sounds, a superb EP that shines nearly all the way.

This is absolutely soothing music, and certainly not your traditional kind of ambient black metal. There are indeed acts such as the notorious Leviathan or Oranssi Pazuzu that use their aural tendencies to encase the listener in utterly nightmarish profundity, evoking despair and trauma as effortlessly as putting a mentally disfigured person behind bars, but Draumar contrasts entirely from such acts, firmly providing a warm, spectral and haunting layer of pulchritude. You could say that they were influenced by Summoning in many ways, as the atmospheric reflection of many passages seem to be befit for being a soundtrack covering a lost footage of The Shire in the Fellowship of the Ring, but then again, Summoning is something far more glorious and unapologetic in its triumph, a right soundtrack for the defeat of Sauron. The thing about ''Gebirge'' is that it's 85% ambient passages and only 15% guitars/drums/vocals intertwined with the atmospherics above, so it's admittedly a rather stunning, but slow-paced listen, despite its brevity. The opener, ''Auftakt'' is a mellow introduction ceremony for the upcoming wave of musical transcendence, and my favorite track is probably the follow-up, ''Gebirge I'', which initiates with synthesizers redolent of Ihsahn's work on Emperor's debut, and gradually unfurls into a diaphanous spectacle. The vocals are raw, winter-beaten and raspy to the core bu somehow they fit the sound effects perfectly, and the guitars are such crisp expedients that they balance the weigh of the record with heavenly succession.

For those who might scoff at the ''orchestral'' tag: I advise you to listen before you criticize. This is no collection of cheap fillers, and certainly not some cheesy horror flick your local death metal decided to use as an appendix for their disjointed Autopsy duplicate disc - these are real fucking instruments being played with accuracy and technique, implemented brazenly into the music. Pianos. Acoustic guitars. Flutes. Violins. All adhered to different sections of the EP, making it all the better. ''Gebirge II'' is nearly as good as its successor, running for some 7 seven minutes, and in versatility it never seems to lack material. Draumar's fresh take on black metal does not seem to deviate all too greatly from some of its peers, Summoning included, but it's sensational in every way that I can think of with my sole complaint being the lack of engagement, that, despite being launched towards such speed freak as I, did not seem to matter so much; a mere peccadilo of a stain amid a beautiful rainbow. That said, the EP was too short to be fully effective as well, running for about 20 minutes, but still, I can't say there was a moment where the the surreal and dazzling approach of Draumar didn't stun me. This is the kind of music that really needs to be taken to a larger scale; I heartily encourage garden variety Norwegian black metal groups to cut their ragged, uncircumcised music short to give bands like Draumar a little more space. I'm determined to see ''Gebirge's'' follow-up, because despite the soothing attribute of the music, the German can stimulate many a listener with ''Gebirge'', and the prospect of a 60+ minute ''Gebirge'' is highly exciting. Well, at least, if they continue this way.

Gebirge I
Gebirge II

Rating: 86%

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