Saturday, 18 February 2012
[ALBUM REVIEW] Põhjast - Der Turm
Genre - Black Metal
1. Überwindung für Nichts
2. Der Turm
3. Nichts zu sagen
Der Turm is the brief, four track debut EP from Estonian/German outfit Põhjast. Among the personnel is ex-Loits Guitarist ‘Gates’, a band who hold plenty of weight in their own country and peaked my own interest. Presumably this isn’t really much more than a preview as to what’s to come from this band in the near future and musically it’s rooted firmly in the Norwegian style of harsh, glacial black metal drawn from the likes of early Enslaved and Immortal.
It’s all rather straight forward as far as any Scandinavian black metal worship goes. The music is very riff-focused; the guitar tone is sharp and icy, piercing through each song and some of the riffs certainly wouldn’t sound out of place on the likes of Frost or Battles in the North. The main riff from “Überwindung Fur Nichts” could easily have been lifted from any of Enslaved’s early releases. The vocals are as you would expect, a dry rasp while serving their purpose don’t harbour much in the way of variation. The title track is fairly pedestrian but where Põhjast really show some encouragement is on “Nichts zu Sagen”, decidedly more Battles in the North than the rest, albeit slightly more tame, not helped by the rather too-clean subdued production. The thick riffing and hammering drums instil some much needed life into what would otherwise be a distinctly passable release. And the less said about the last track “Chiromantie” the better. Talk about disrupting the flow of the music completely, they’ve opted for a perplexing acoustic piece tacked on to the end which serves about as much purpose as an ashtray on a motorcycle. Completely mundane and out of place, just what was the point?
Der Turm is a competent enough effort though it lacks a certain vigor and identity which is badly needed to inject a bit of vitality into proceedings. It’s not that the music is poor, the song writing is decent and the instrumentation tight; it’s just very formulaic and walks a well trodden path we’ve all visited so many times before. Huge fans of early Norwegian black metal may well find something worth their time here, but for me I’ll wait for a proper full length to fully pass judgement.