Record Label: AOP Records
This Is Black Metal Rating: 9/10
Mention the word Ellende to someone who knows nothing about music and they’ll naturally assume you have just insulted them, but forgotten to pronounce the “B” at the start. Mention it to a person who actually knows something about music and they’ll assume you are referring to Elend, the French Neo-Classical artist responsible for some seriously beautiful work back in the 90s, and of course, more recently. On both occasions, however, no one would suspect you were talking about Austria’s Ellende, a Post-Black Metal act that has been swimming shark-like just under the surface for many years. No more. With “EBS”, (I’m not writing that title again) Ellende has truly arrived.
It, of course, must be noted that this band is a “Post BM” band, and so take inspiration from Black Metal, rather than acting as a Black Metal band in their own right, or so that’s my understanding of the whole ”post” this and “post” that nonsense. If I were to hear this without a brief telling me what genre the band fell under, then I would take this as a BM release. But it seems the band doesn’t want this label, and so a feeble, nondescript description will have to do.
Lecture over, ( ie, fuck off with these pathetic sub-genre descriptions of your music, be Metal, or don’t…) let’s look at what Ellende has to offer.
“Intro,” is just that, a melodic piano piece that’s soon enhanced with some melancholic choral work and even some acoustic loveliness, all designed to make us think we’re in for an easy ride…but hang on…
“Unsterblich” arrives with a four-second warning at blistering speed and wakes the whole affair up in rather a pleasant fashion. There’s a beautiful central riff drifting through the track accompanied by a strong BM (inspired) rasping vocal
courtesy of someone going by the name of “L.G.” It would also appear that L.G. does everything in the band, and so should be lauded as a highly talented individual. After various stops and starts, Unsterblichsnaps to a very disciplined halt and it’s onto “Ruhelos,” another 7-minute affair that stars reasonably slowly and even employs some Stewart Copelandstylee rim shot work to keep us entertained. Eventually, the track kicks in with some pained shouting, after which the track bounces between BM-paced metal and slower, more melodic chunks of solid beauty, complete with high female choral work drifting ethereally in the background. It’s all very nicely put together and extremely accurate, in a Swiss train timetable kind of way. Nothing is out of place, there isn’t a flat note or even a murmur that’s out of synch. A detective would describe this music as “ good, almost too good” and consequently look for the reason as to why…
“Hand Aufs Herz” follows immediately and is a real blinder. Startlingly fast and full of nightside synth accompanying the competent guitar work, this track soon breaks itself down into a work of accomplished beauty, the slower waltzy middle section taking center stage and securing this track as the album highlight so far. A breathtaking piece of music. LG, whomever you may be, take a bow.
“Someday” reminds us that this isn’t a BM album per se, with its nicely arranged piano lilt and weirdly arranged clattering drums, we can be solidly reminded that this is a “Post-BM” release. All very nice if you’re into Slowdive and another shoe-gaze ness from 1993. But don’t go away thinking it’s no good, because musically this is a work of technical mastery.
“Freier Fall” opens with a beautiful horn section, (weird but true) that’s soon joined by some kind of clattering percussion that for all the world sounds like it’s from a cowboy movie from 1958 (weirder, but still true). Eventually, normality is restored and the track kicks off at Mach 2 – which isn’t weird, and is in fact superb. The tune to this track is genuinely heartbreaking, and everything that Black Metal should be. This is truly inspired, original musicianship at its finest and is one of the tracks of the year in my (very) humble opinion. I’m going to listen to that one again…
That done, “Abschied” explodes into life with predictable accuracy. And that’s becoming a bit of a theme with this album. Absolutely nothing is left to chance, there’s not a hint of feedback, not a second that’s under-produced, not a single moment out of place. With a purely Black Metal release, I’d be viewing this as a little suspect, as if the album were missing a little bit of spirit. But as it is, a “Post-BM” album, I can offer nothing but praise – this is another track of high quality, high-speed Black Metal “inspired” music that sears the soul and should warm the dark spaces where the hearts of TIBM listeners should be..
All too soon here we are at the finale, the tricky to spell “Verletzlich,” the opening of which is full of oohs and ahhs backed up by a gradually rising plethora of nicely placed guitars and effects, and we’re even treated to that “cowboy” rim shot again. Lucky us. Toward the end, we are given a speech, something to do with “distortion” and the album winds itself up and disappears into the ether…
This is a nicely assembled work. Most of the elements should appeal to a regular listener of Black Metal. There are a few bits that might not, but that’s pretty much the norm for all albums. I’m not too sure about this whole “Post-Black Metal” genre approach. You may have to forgive me on that one, I’m just an old man stuck in his ways.
For sure, Ellende has produced a really strong work here. It’s accurate, ( occasionally unnervingly so), melodic, beautifully orchestrated, wonderfully executed and superbly written. And it’s just good to listen to.
And if that simple fact trumps all of the genre nonsense, then I’m in.