Apparently it’s split week around here. That’s just fine with us, because a really good collection of songs from one or more artists can serve several purposes. It can be an introductory, it can serve as a tide-over before a new full-length arrives, and it could be for artists who always wanted to do something together to have that chance.
The meeting of German artists Waldgeflüster (led by founder Winterherz) and the U.S.’s Panopticon (Austin Lunn) is a collection that’s pretty much a dream come true for anyone into rich, hazy, atmospheric black metal. Both of these bands have given richly to the metal world with their creations, and their chance to share a split release only makes too much sense. The fact that these two entities share a kinship only adds fuel to the creative fires, where each side comes to the table with a new creation as well as a cover of each other’s work. It’s a really interesting way to go about this, and all four of these songs blend together so perfectly.
As for Waldgeflüster, Winterherz has been at the helm since the beginning a little over a decade ago, though he now has a full band–guitarists Dominik Frank and Markus Frey, bassist Arvagr, drummer Thomas Birkmaier–alongside him to realize the group’s work. The last time we heard from Waldgeflüster, it was on the amazing 2014 album “Meine Fesseln,” a record that, to this day, still manages to fire up my hearts and make me follow this group as deep into the forest as I can go. I’m not sure that this band is talked about enough, at least here in the States, so perhaps this collection can open more ears to this wonderful, captivating band.
Waldgeflüster’s section begins with “Der Traumschänder,” a 12:20-long track that begins with gazey tones before gushing open fully. The vocals are passionate and grip at you, with the song going on fits of rage for times, pulling back and injecting calm at others. Strings later sweep in as the song takes on a folk edge, but that rustic bend eventually is blown apart as the heaviness returns. The singing feels chant-like, while guitars lap up and burn, infectious melodies arrive, and the song’s refrain returns, spinning over and over again, even as the music slowly subsides and fades away. Then it’s on to the cover of “Norwegian Nights” from Panopticon’s “Roads to the North.” This version is faithful to the original, with some added elements drizzled in, vocal harmonies that enrapture, and a great take on one of the most emotionally gripping songs of Panopticon’s 2014 record.
Panopticon is not a stranger to this site, as we’ve been ardent supporters for as long as I can recall. Lunn has done amazing things under this banner, visiting tough social subjects, mining his home spots in the United States for inspiration, and even taking us on a stunning journey physically and spiritually as he found his life’s work. Well, his other life’s work. We last heard from Panopticon on last year’s amazing “Autumn Eternal,” and seeing that Lunn doesn’t take much down time from this project, it’s not a surprise to have new music from him.
Lunn’s contributions start with “Håkan’s song,” a 12:35-lon cut that immediately rages like a storm, blowing debris against the windows and rattling the doors. Energy bristles, while the metallic guitar work rains down and rips everything apart, and the vocals roars and pounds at your chest. The pace is thunderous and exciting, smothering and rollicking before the clouds roll away, and serenity rises. There’s a gentle, atmospheric stretch that infuses the scene with air, and then the track kicks back up again, pouring on the fire and blistering everything in front of it. The emotion remains thick, while the track keeps rushing all the way to the final moments. Then it’s on to his version of Waldgeflüster’s woodsy “Trauerweide II” (called “Trauerweide Teil II” on “Meine Fesseln”), a stripped-back, nakedly folk take on the song, starting with the opening of a beer bottle and Lunn sitting down with the banjo. Lunn opts for English as opposed to the original’s German, and this bluegrass-smoked version is big on melodies, heart, and respect for his friends.
For those who are fans of these bands, this is kind of a dream-come-true collection that delivers every ounce of power and majesty you’d expect. Their takes on each other’s work not only shows a respect and adulation for the songs they chose, but they even get a new dose of the personality. This split gives and gives with each visit, and it’s well worth your time, on your porch, with a beer drawn, as you ponder your own path through life.
For more on Waldgeflüster, go here: http://www.waldgefluester.com/
For more on Panopticon, go here: https://www.facebook.com/TheTruePanopticon
To buy the album go here: http://eihwazrecordings.com/distro/index.php
Or here: http://store.nordvis.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://bindrunerecordings.com/
And here: http://www.nordvis.com/