PICK OF THE WEEK: Waldgefluster expand ranks, atmosphere-rich sense of black metal on ‘Ruinen’

waldgeflusterEmotion and passion in music are things you don’t have to explain to anyone. At least it shouldn’t be. You put on the music or you see the band in a live setting, and you just know. The energy and power they conjure go right into you, fill your veins, and overwhelm you with the might the artists create with their songs and performances.

There’s never any doubt when hearing German black metal band Waldgefluster that every ounce of their music comes from their hearts. That’s one of the things that makes the band so special. There are many bands playing atmospheric, nature-rich black metal, but not many convey their feelings and inspirations the way this band does. The only experiences I’ve ever had with the band is through their records—I haven’t had the fortune to see them live yet—and every visit with them, no matter how many times I hear the records, always gets to me. That spills right into the band’s new record “Ruinen,” the fourth Waldgefluster record overall. Energetic black metal, soul-scraping vocals, and music that carries you right along with them into the wilderness are packed into these eight cuts, and every journey through these 63 minutes is exciting and enthralling.

waldgefluster-coverI keep saying “band” and “they” when referring to Waldgefluster, but the group wasn’t really a group until recently. Waldgefluster started off as the solo project for Winterherz, who started the thing 10 years ago and put out three full-length records on his own. Now for “Ruinen,” he’s joined by a full slate including guitarists Dominik Frank and Markus Frey, bassist Arvagr, and drummer Thomas Birkmaier, and the full-group experience leads to a watershed of sound and an enthralling performance that does the name Waldgefluster quite well. You practically can feel snow crunch under your feet and the wind sting your cheeks on this record, as the atmospheric elements have been further explored, and it’s going to be an excellent companion as it gets colder.

“Die Ruine als Schmuck” is the album’s awakening quite literally, and it feels like the sun cracking the horizon, with music slowly spreading and speaking perking up your ears. Then it’s into 10:29 “Weltenwanderer” that opens with fierce growls and hypnotic melodies. A theme of many of these songs is the walking through fire, into calm, and back into the blaze, as this track demonstrates. Singing mixes in with the harsher vocals, while blazing guitars meet up with cold, reflective passages that seem situated in deep morning fog. From there, a huge emotional gust takes place, with fury and beauty meeting, wild cries intertwining with melody, and a passage of heartfelt playing dissolving into the haze. “Trümmerfestung” is a tick off 12 minutes, and in enters in a wind gust that turns into furious howls and a trudging pace. The middle of this cut has an emotional caterwaul that might leave you grasping for the walls, and out of that, a tremendous bit of soloing glimmers before giving way to quiet acoustics and a mix of whispers and clean calls. The tempo later erupts all over, making huge dents before disappearing into acoustic waves. “Und immer wieder Schnee” is harsh and heavy with spirited playing snaking through and growls and hearty singing again taking turns to belt out the messages. Moody and spacious guitars later emerge, sending a huge rush of atmosphere into the room—and tripping out your mind—before a feral assault and sunburnt guitars join forces and fade out with a stretch of haunting knocks.

“Ruinenfelder” pulls things back a bit, as acoustics settle in, and cleanly sung verses waft over the track. Strings begin to swell, and the powder keg is poked, but the bulk of this is rustic and woodsy, countered with passionate cries and decimating howls. “Graustufen Novembertage” is burly and airy when it starts, with melody and feral expressions going tooth and nail. Again, the animalistic shrieks and deeply human singing combine, bringing an infusion of energy and a tug of war between light and dark. The growls burst, while amazing melodies and a torrid assault of drums team up and carry the track-ending dialog to a stinging conclusion. “Aschephönix” feels solemn at first before it tears open and soars into a cloudy, mesmerizing pace. Some of the track feels like it’s traveling through a thick, dark tunnel, though guitars crack through and shine beams. The track slips into the valleys, basking in the shade, and things even get chilly for a bit, letting you see your breath in the air. But the rupture you expect happens, with the vocals blazing through, melodies whipping up a frenzy, and a noise squall swallowing it whole. “Susitaival” closes the album in a quiet, calming tone, with hushed acoustics, gentle percussive taps, and noise rising and casting its shadow, bringing the record to a fitting end.

Waldgefluster remain one of the most thunderous, heartfelt bands in all of black metal, and their amazing run continues with “Ruinen.” This is the type of band that’ll never let metal’s, or their own, heart burn out and will continue to keep the torch blazing for as long as they can. This is a really excellent band, one of the most reliable in all of metal, and they never let you walk away from one of their records not feeling completely and utterly impacted.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.waldgefluester.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://thecollectivedistro.com/

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For more on the label, go here: http://www.waldgefluester.com/

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