Waldgeflüster plaster hearts, bleed emotion on darkly rustic, stunning ‘Mondscheinsonaten’

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/

New Jersey death crushers Hath revel in blood, destruction on stunning debut ‘Of Rot and Ruin’

We’ve mentioned before the glut of new records that ram my inbox every day that it’s so hard to keep up with every vital thing going on with metal. Again, a super good problem to have on our end, so I’m definitely not complaining. But I imagine how hard it must be for the waves of really good bands to find the audience that will embrace them.

While trying to wade through all that shit, it’s probably a good idea to have your act together and playing really strong stuff while you’re etching your path. That’s likely what led Hath to come to the attention of Willowtip Records, the label releasing their insanely good debut LP “Of Rot and Ruin.” With only a 2015 EP “Hive” to their credit to this point, the band rips out nine tracks in about 55 minutes, all of which they spend building their case and destroying the senses. The band—guitarist/vocalist Frank Albanese, bassist/vocalist Greg Nottis, guitarist Peter Brown, drummer AJ Viana—blister with death metal fire that’s not quite as technically noodly as a lot of other Willowtip releases (I mean that with all due respect) and instead just goes for the throat with blackened aggression. The music also is compelling and splattering, which means it’s not just here to shed blood but also to twist up your brains.

“Usurpation” kicks off the record with bells chiming and grimy death emerging before the tempo starts bashing away. The leads simmer and send off heat, with the soloing leaning into prog waters. A cleansing burst clears the space, with anthemic blasts closing the track. “Currents” begins with acoustics and hand drums before the band goes on an adventure complete with vicious growls and a monstrous assault drawing blood. Clean wails push in behind the shrieks, while the band unleashes sludgy horror that fades into black. “Rituals” begins clean before a proggy burst opens wounds, and the guitars shred minds. Whispers bring an uneasy calm, and then the drums clobber, clean singing works alongside the growls, and the track manages to be both sinister and catchy before being consumed by a chunky ending. “To Atone” mashes right away, with grisly vocals, muddy playing making your wheels spin, and growls and shrieks teaming up to bring abject terror, with howls of, “I see the truth!”

“Withered” is chilling as it starts, as it trickles slowly before being consumed by a slow-driving hell that makes your muscles ache. Abrasive growls and bubbling guitars work together to deliver total devastation. “Worlds Within” has acoustics and warm guitars out front before it’s ripped apart, and monstrous growls devour things whole. Keys arrive, as prog waters again rush, and classic guitars give the hell a feel of vintage charge. The song then speeds up and enraptures, bringing things back to death that continues to twist the knife in your ribs before trudging away. “Kindling” is an instrumental cut that delivers rustic acoustics, lush picking, and a mellower vibe, which is utterly destroyed by “Accursed” when it launches with devastating punches before pulling back a bit on the relentlessness. The verses then toughen up a bit, with cries of, “I let you fall into the abyss!” swimming amidst the muddy melodies. The track gets meaner as it reaches its final minutes, as weird guitars swoop, the flow gets tricky, and everything comes to a fiery end. “Progeny” caps off the album with bludgeoning heaviness and the howl of, “Here I lie hidden from the sun, ready to be devoured by the slime of the gods.” The pace keeps up its intensity and panic, eventually giving way in a hell storm that ends in doom bells, which acts as a bookend to the record.

Hath’s debut “Of Rot and Ruin” is an impressive display of bone-crushing death metal that’s exceptionally well played and also bloody as hell. This is a band that, while treading water in a sea of other death metal groups, should be able to hold their own with their razor-sharp proficiency and thirst to mangle digits. The best Hath can do to ensure more people are aware of their metallic violence is keep beating the same path they’re on until they’re followed by devoted legions.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/HathNJ/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.willowtip.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.willowtip.com/home.aspx