Back in February, the distinguished pagan/folk Black Metal label Purity Through Fire reissued one-man project Ysbryd’s “Kraft” on cd. Gestalt is the man behind this band, and he’s a very busy fellow, with over a dozen other projects ranging from prog metal to punk and brutal death/slam…. What we have here, though, is a dense and well-executed outpouring of aggressive and melodic Black Metal from the Bavarian Forest of Germany.
While reviewing this album I was finishing the last half of Frank Herbert’s epic “God Emperor of Dune”, and despite the climate differences between the respective landscapes of the book and this music, there’s actually a similar and complimentary style to each. The deep multi-layered structure of the writing that had me re-reading chapters was matched by the mastery of Gestalt’s “Kraft”, as I played each track over and over again.
This release starts out strong, pulling in your attention with the first enchanting strains of the instrumental opener “Diafol” and plunging right into “Schmach und Schande”, with its lilting melodies and cascading riffs evocative of “Transilvanian Hunger” or “Panzerfaust” era Darkthrone. The scale progressions create an eerie, desolate and cold atmosphere, as if you’re on a wandering journey through that majestic, dark, mountainous German forest. Gestalt’s gruff vocals carry a rabid lycanthropic edge, and his ravening delivery is very convincing.
Fans of fellow Germanic solo BM act Falkenbach, as well as Teutonic legends like Absurd, Moonblood, Horn, and Aaskereia will definitely dig on this. In highlight track “Die Stunde des Daemons”, the raw and raging rhythms, blistering riffs, monstrous growls and evil screams are punctuated by the lush atmospheric production to highlight the dramatically sweeping guitars. Their dissonant harmonics are intricately structured, like spiderwebs; providing dour, sombre passages such as “Im Kriege” (In The War), featuring dark ambience and chanting which segues deftly into rousing coldburner “Geist Ueber Fleisch” (Spirit Over Flesh).
“Ritual der Befreiung” starts out at a slow, plodding tempo that surrounds the harried listener in a sinister fog, pierced by the dark pines of the tremolo riffs, snowcapped by glittering cymbals which serve to pull the structure together cohesively and create a galloping, grooving ebb-and-flow that resonates with the listener much like the infectiously melodic and heavy hooks of Sargeist or Satanic Warmaster.
The torturously beautiful weavings of forest poetry throughout Kraft possess an aura of nocturnal sorcery, Gestalt’s ragged vocals heavy as if with boughs of treacherous snow which might fall from above and submerge you as you try to find the way through these winding thicket paths, the ghostly black branches grasping at your mind….
The insistence of the harsh, driving rhythms is undeniable and doesn’t let up for a moment. When the wailing, clarion cold guitar cries out to begin the mesmerising cut “Glanz und Gloria”, it’s like the sound of howling wolves closing in on you at last in the darkest hour of this journey as the swirling riffs envelop you, converging with the ravenous vocals to go straight for your throat and your sanity. But eventually the frenzy subsides and begins fading into the melancholic acoustic closer “Duw”, its plaintive, wistful strings bleeding through the dark canopy like grey morning light; a bleak reprieve from the vicious madness of the night.
The latest pressings of this cd come with the previously unreleased “Gestalt” demo included as bonus tracks, so check out Purity Through Fire’s distro site if you’re ready to discover what lies at the heart of these grim woods….
A harrowing and haunting, but thoroughly rewarding excursion into the depths of true misanthropic dark art, a call to all blackhearted pagans and demonic souls hungering for powerful and profound black metal in a world full of blinking lights and plastic trees…. (Terrorgasm)