We said it a few times already. The RMR deckhands fancy bands that step out of boundaries. Too many outfits just navigate inside the suffocating confines of arbitrarily set genres. And astonishingly, many a metal adept actually likes that.
There is no stepping out of the proverbial box into those dreary swamps of new metal that can swallow you whole in an instant. In their minds you can’t be a metalhead without wearing a ton of black t-shirts and sport a scraggly beard, if you’re male, that is. But I transgress, so let’s get back to this review.
Germany sports a pretty sturdy metal community that found space on this ‘zine more than once over time. Interestingly, many of these outfits seem to be burdened with a dystopian view of – well – everything. Added to that, they often nurse psychological woes – imagined or not – that tune well with their preferred state of mind. And this shows in those metal offerings that rumble our way.
Agrypnie ain’t no different. Already the photo of Torsten Hirsch that came with this delivery here speaks volumes. Shot on a sort of bridge at night with one of their awfully synthetic and often bleak cities seemingly in the background. Doom and tribulations beckon you, right? Boy, they should have painted some rain into the pic for better reflections of the dirty-yellow light in the background. That would have been so much drearier.
And true to that credo, Metamorphosis takes off with a thrashy sort of blackened metal that often is closer to the folks of the gothic realm than is really necessary. All of that overflows with a ton of doom-laden melancholy that would make any Doom Metal outfit proud.
In a way, the piece often eerily reminds me of the stuff Todtgelichter supplied some time ago when they weren’t playing dead yet. Whereas Agrypnie‘s style here is much more rough-hewn and brutal, and less rooted in some sort of pseudo-intellectual thinking than is the case with the latter.
At times, you’ll also get hints from the likes of Thormesis. So why wasn’t I surprised to find a guest contribution of this band on Metamorphosis in between a few others. After all, the latter also call their style Post Black Metal.
Agrypnie surely aren’t the new kid around the block. The band released six full-length records with this one since 2005, together with several demos, EPs, and splits. Yet, the whole production still exudes those vibes of a one-man band, even if Hirsch switched to a full band quite a few years ago. And that’s a good thing, by the way.
So, you get the pig-headed approach of one of those loner outfits with the benefit of real musicians. This leads to a sometimes uncomfortably loud and overly rich soundscape that feels like an unrelenting, yet slow lava flow. One that mercilessly disgorges its stuff out of that proverbial crater without regard to its surroundings.1)
In addition, if you slam an unrelenting, largely screamed and unmodulated growling style on top of an often overly varied soundscape, sensory overload might ensue. And that is a pity. Apart from the blackened and frankly harsh passages, Metamorphosis contains a ton of atmosphere and ambient parts that are almost endearing at times. And to push those elements mercilessly into the background, again and again, is not giving them real credit.
Then there is the issue of bloat. Metamorphosis clocks at a whopping 68 minutes of airtime. We are sure that many of those heavy twists and turns could have been straightened a bit. Already by ditching the useless intro and outro, things would already improve the quality of this piece. Cutting off the obvious flabby parts of sizzling fat and knocking the mix into shape would have given the record an aura brighter than a New York shoeshine. But it wasn’t to be.
Yet again, grim as this critique may sound, Metamorphosis is a good record. Wir Ertrunkenen is one great piece of blackened death with a harsh dose of gothic infusion. Whereas Verwüstung and its delicate atmospherics showcase how the harsh and the filigree can coexist. It may be an uneasy union, but a union it is indeed.
As the tracklist progresses, you’ll discover a ton of ideas, and maybe a few too many. But – boy – Agrypnie threw everything they had at it. All of that embeds in sudden changes of tempi, juicy forays into Post Black territory, and bits of the best Melodic Black and Death Metal this crew heard so far. Those that come with stellar meaty and truly heavy riffing that often ended up on our good side. And – last but not least – the piece delivers all that red-hot alloy with gusto and credible emotion that conveys that pain the band seeks to send your way.
And it is true. Metamorphosis truly steps out of those aforementioned boundaries and we appreciate that. That fact may not be to every die-hard metalhead’s liking, but you can’t keep everyone happy, right? Agrypnie created a record that convinces with its feverish and angst-ridden passion, its grimy and rough style, and a delicate underbelly. And that’s paradoxical and – at the same time – fascinating.
In other words, we got ourselves no perfect record for sure, but it’s definitely a piece that held our attention longer than it should have. And it hit us unexpectedly, right out of the left field. Well done.
|1.||Ah, yeah. That’s what volcanoes do, right? -Ed.|