Wednesday, 2 May 2012

[ALBUM REVIEW] Aschenglas - Schauderreich

Genre - Symphonic Black/Folk Metal

1. Weinende Engel            
2. Viel zu schlimm um wahr zu sein            
3. Inkaelte            
4.  Zu horchen zur Geschicht        
5.  Brandemann     
6.  Klein Leidenslied           
7.  Schwesterleins letzter Tag         
8.  Schwarzer Regen            
9.  Schauderreich  
10. Am Ende dunkelts ganz und gar             

I first came across this bizarre Austrian outfit a few years ago when I bought one of their demos on a complete whim.  While it wasn’t the most awe-inspiring example of black metal I’d ever heard there was a certain spark hidden deep within that fuzzy demotape that kept drawing me back to it every now and again wondering when they’d get round to releasing a full length. Schauderreich has to a certain extent fulfilled that promise, but unfortunately held back to a huge extent by the absolutely woeful production. Seriously what was this recorded on, a fucking brick?

Trying to pin a sound on these guys proves to be rather futile; the core of their sound is rooted firmly in the black metal realm but there’s a menagerie of other influences such as goth and folk that really set off their identity. If you’ve heard their countrymen Raventhrone then it might go some way to describing their sound for it appears they are to some extent an influence on Aschenglas’ with the synth prevalent, medieval atmospheres albeit without the sheer epic soundscapes that Raventhrone were able to conjure.  

It’s an unashamedly melodic release, the keys have a significant presence throughout the whole album and are admittedly at times outstanding, stirring up images of far-fetched medieval fantasy themes. You only have to listen to the title track or “Brandemann” to know what I mean. The guitar work plays a somewhat reserved role, unintentionally due to the fact it’s so insubstantial and the tone so weak. There’s no kick off it which is a pity as there is some brilliant riffing and lead work beyond that wall of synth. This is generally the main problem that plagues the album from beginning to end, and subdues what would otherwise be a fantastic release. The sound is so compressed and lacking in dynamics and bass that it stifles every single element of the release, which is a pity as there is some really impressive musicianship on show here.

“Inkaelte” is one of the highlights, seven minutes of extremely melancholic guitar riffs supported with a backdrop of triumphant sounding synths and vocals duelling between deep Germanic goth and high pitched throaty rasp that at times tends to sound a little silly. “Brandemann” is much more vigorous and direct, sounding almost like a prelude to a great battle of sorts. The album’s main showpiece though lies with the title track “Schauderreich”, a sprawling epic that spans eight minutes and begins in stunning fashion with an intro awash with flowing, majestic keys and sorrow laden riffs that echo to a ‘not-quite-so-well’ produced Summoning among others before shifting mid-way into something considerably more ‘gothic’ before reverting back to its Summoning-esque grandeur to close the song.

One thing’s for sure, it’s an interesting listen. At times it was mesmerizing and others it left me cold and unsure. I would love to have given Schauderreich more but the production is so downright shitty I couldn’t; there is a mass of potential just waiting to be unleashed underneath that flimsy exterior, which hopefully we will see some of in their next effort. As it stands though, if you’re a fan of extremely melodic, ambitious and dramatic black metal with plenty of unfamiliar influences that wouldn’t sound out of place in a world inhabited by hobbits, orcs and elves then give it a whirl. Just prepare to be ever so frustrated. 


Sounds like  - Raventhrone, Summoning, Nazgul

Originally written for Metalcrypt

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