Winter is breathing its last here in the eastern part of the United States. As I write this, we are anticipating temperatures near 70 degrees, and people are getting all hot and bothered about the upcoming warmer months to give solace from a winter that was bizarre and unpredictable. That said, we’re heading right back into the storm, letting the blizzard bruise our faces.
The reason for that is German atmospheric black metal force Waldgeflüster have returned with “Mondscheinsonaten” (in English it translates to “moonlight sonata), an eight-track, 56-minute record that re-opens the majesty of winter and fills your lungs with excruciatingly cold air. On this, the band’s fifth record and first since 2016’s “Ruinen,” rustic folk and molten black metal merge that, sound wise, makes them the European brethren for Panopticon (the bands will tour together, and they have done a split together and contributed to each other’s projects). The songs are sung in the group’s native German, so there will be a language barrier for anyone who doesn’t speak the language. But there’s no way the music itself and the expression won’t set your heart ablaze, as their art is an international language that will fill you up inside. The band—vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Winterherz, guitarists Markus Frey and Dominik Frank, bassist Arvagr, drummer Thomas Birkmaier—sound like they’re rushing the German forest, pulling sounds and inspirations from their hearts and love of homeland to bring an experience that isn’t just a metal record but a portrait of a place in time.
“Einleitung” starts the record with acoustics, the winds whipping, and clean calls, giving off a woodsy folk vibe before meeting up with “Der Steppenwolf” that kicks off with lush melodies and glorious power, amplified with harsh growls. The vocals continue to crash while clean lines wrap around them, with a gazey atmosphere lowering the cloud coverage, bringing a brief calm dotted by guitar lines trickling. When the track opens anew, the playing rushes back and infuses the world with colors, the vocals peels back your flesh, and the fires keep raging until the song slowly fades. “Gipfelstürme” has a folkish open before shit is torn apart, growls surge, and the guitars make the melodies crash through the gates. Things utterly soar, as clean calls add majesty, and even some serene sounds bleed in to add more texture. The growls continue to mangle, with speaking adding to the eeriness, and a rousing return of the chorus splits back in to end the song on a high.
“Rotgoldene Novemberwälder” begins spaciously as guitars erupt, and the emotion is rushed forward. Harsh cries, deep bellowing, and some speaking all take turns over the madness beneath, as the barnstormer ends on a freezing pathway. “Und der Wind…” has dreamy synth to start before the track crackles open with folkish singing and melodies that make your blood surge. The pace storms and gets gnarly, which gets an assist from the vocals, but then things turn unexpectedly breezy, with hearty singing to boot. That doesn’t last long as the growls crush all over, tremendous spirit is injected into the playing, and the spirit digs into your heart before finally giving mercy. “Von Winterwäldern und Mondscheinsonaten” starts with a folk/country feel, a bit of a hint of something that lies ahead, before the heaviness trikes with start-stop playing that leaves bruising. The track trudges for stretches, allows air into the room at other times, while tumult rages later on as hearts and souls explode, and a return of the chorus ends the track with optimal energy. “Staub in der Lunge” is what was foreshadowed a song earlier, as the band enters full country mode here. The singing is soulful and emotionally rich, while the track floods with heart, getting gritter as it goes before finally soaring off into the horizon. If you have the vinyl version, you get an acoustic take of “Der Steppenwolf” as your closer, a reworked stab at the metallic shot you took earlier, giving the song a totally different atmosphere and character.
Seasonally, this record isn’t dropping at an ideal time in this part of the world, but we can still immerse ourselves in wintry majesty whenever we want to by visiting Waldgeflüster’s massive “Mondscheinsonaten.” This music is rich and devastating, an album that never relents in fire and emotion. This is a band we’ve long unabashedly loved, and it’s great to hear this group continuing to expand our minds when it comes to black metal and the drama it can pack when done really well.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/BlackMetalWaldgefluester/
To buy the album, go here: https://nordvis.com/en/waldgefluster-a-19
For more on the label, go here: https://www.nordvis.com/en/