#FOR FANS OF: Post Black, Ulver, Agalloch
A Bavarian black metal band that features some Ulver and Agalloch style guitar harmonies with high doses of furious blast beats, Waldgeflüster alternates between raw, aggressive old-school black metal style and melancholic, heartfelt post-black modernism in 'Ruinen'. Post-black is an interesting arrangement on its own. Bands who play this style honor the under-produced, low-fi atmosphere of the progenitors of the second wave of black metal while they seek to display a maturation of the style and, in my opinion, sometimes try too hard to say they've outgrown the aggression of their youth. Giving the post title to any style seems to say that whatever a sub-genre or movement set out to do was already accomplished and now the new breed is playing with what was worthy of surviving their scrutiny. With black metal being a very anti-establishment style that breaks down many metal walls and constructs, the post-black style seeks to sift through the debris and pick up the few solid pieces that survived the apocalyptic assault of the legions that came before them. Major originators in this matured post-black realm like Ulver, Agalloch, and Enslaved, broadened the horizons of the initial second wave and experimented with just how far they could take the initial approach. However, this new territory comes with the caveat of too many post-black hipster bands jumping on the bandwagon of a style that was initially created to make you get into it rather than be too easily accessible to exactly that sort of fair weather audience. Luckily with Waldgeflüster the hipster bits are toned down enough while a focus on the common forest reverence and atmosphere are the main compliments of their style posing the question of where to take things after the smoke has cleared. Unfortunately, it's been done so many times that to truly stand out becomes far more difficult in such a small but saturated sphere.
Despite how cleanly produced the vocals, bass, and drums are, the guitars have a very raw sound to them. This treble is a staple of the style but it's too high in Waldgeflüster's mix to compliment the bass end and it becomes grating too easily despite how beautifully employed the instruments are. Something less airy and thicker in the lower registers would improve this quite a bit. It's not a major flaw, but enough to make the music a bit less pleasing on the ear than it could be and it makes the drums less pronounced that I'd prefer. The main single from this album, “Weltenwanderer”, is a thesis of this band's focuses. From an airy opening with vocals raging against the guitars' melancholy, plateauing with destructive blasts, and the entire band falling into an introspective but determined wandering segment, this song integrates the complex combination of thoughts and emotions that black metal has pondered for decades. “Trummerfestung” already passes as great piece of music after the first three and a half minutes and then goes on to become an expository piece elaborating on the majesty witnessed in the lyrics. Some electrifying blast beats, fantastic tempo changes, and humbling harmonies make this an epic and memorable song. The blast near the main transition, around 1:20 is unsettling in how fast it comes into the mix, however it is unseated by a relentless tremolo harmony with a backdrop of a more melodic and expected speed in the next blast. These first two songs are the biggest standouts of 'Ruinen' while “Und Immer Wieder Schnee” begins a turn towards a deepening depression and the title track comes in as a simpler cleanly sung depressive piece, combating the structures created by the former songs. With more ripping drumming falling upon a strong guitar change-up, the energy of “Grastufen Novembertage” has a reverential, epic, and foresty sound combined with a return to the rage from the opening of the album while “Aschephonix” claws its way out of the doldrums its guitar keeps pulling it into. “Susitaival” is an acoustic closer to the album. Very much a more folksy approach to Agalloch style, this flowing piece seems to get its name from a hiking trail in Finland that translates to the “Wolf's Path” and earns this album some serious points for how gorgeous it sounds.
Waldgeflüster has a great grasp on where they want to go throughout this album and guide you through a dense forest of sounds and emotions where every copse of trees has a memory attached to it. The blizzards of blasts and icy treble make this band's domain a harsh environment at times but the shelter of this thick and grizzly territory hides the spirit of a style that is being examined with the reverence of retrospect. In all, Waldgeflüster's 'Ruinen' is a complex sort of beast that approaches black metal with a more matured outlook but cannot help but ponder what pieces should be picked up after the great structures have been razed.