Ellende – Ellenbogengesellschaft (2022) – Review

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Behold. The RMR crew finds itself back with that vibrant pool of excellent metal bands found around Germany and Austria. And we – of course – already drank deeply from that dark well of vile Extreme Metal that seems to spring forth from the tortured souls in those lands.

Now, some of the most exciting specimens originate from the Black Forest and – specifically – in the area around Bavaria and the greater swathes of the Austrian heartland. So, it seems like those dark valleys, somber forests, wild streams, and often magic sights inspire the doomy, atmospheric folks most.

Some wild rasping and growling must often reverberate off them trees in dark, shady corners when nobody’s listening. With a lost solo here and there that rings out in between the wild rocks and crevasses. Because metalheads have been spotted in those ancient, cold jungles. Soundcheck in the forest. Wooden chips or trve metal scraps? Start yer saws.

Ellende‘s newest concoction already states its business straight with its album art, and that’s a pretty cool feat. A boar in shiny armor that stares you down with boorish intensity, no less. A beast that runs wild in those dark forests but – here – this takes on a much more sinister air. The record deplores today’s Ellenbogengesellschaft or elbow society strictly translated from German. Which – in turn – means dog-eat-dog culture in understandable English. Ellende‘s wild pig really does resemble that (not so) new style of living where the strongest – not the most competent – will survive. Not a very refined legacy that we find ourselves in these days, but not anything new either.

And true enough, Ellende‘s newest record follows straight down that stony mountain trail that other Atmospheric and Post Black metal bands already trod on. Names like Waldgeflüster or – again – Harakiri for the Sky immediately spring to mind once the first note rings out. And sure enough, the latter’s vocalist J.J. appears as a guest on Ruhelos. I daresay, having the band’s sole multi-instrumentalist L.G.1) play tag team on vocals truly knocked everything else off its pedestal so far. But more to that later.

Ellenbogengesellschaft immediately thrives on expertly arranged ambient acoustics once Ich bin (I am) fails to assault your eardrums. But this brutally changes once the traditional Black Metal tropes of Unsterblich roar off into the misty yonder. This track already mixes Scandinavian-type extremes with tasty atmospherics. And here’s yet another band that masters this seamless switch from rugged metal brutalization to quiet ambients.

And whilst the atmospheric parts dwindled a bit over this record’s predecessors, you’ll find enough anguish and doom all over the tracklist. The aforementioned Ruhelos exudes a sense of desperation that we found tangible. Yet, this is – of course – up to individual taste. But if you look for trve Post Black excellence, then look no further than Hand aufs Herz. Pitiless tremolo-infested atrocities from its first note that then disintegrates into atmospheric goodness and tasty ambient. And those softer sounds seem like a relief after all that noise-salad. So, if you’re strapped for time, then head straight for this track. This is the true essence of Ellenbogengesellschaft.

Many records we cover will slacken by the second half. Yet here – again – the strength of all those tracks won’t falter. True, you got less energizing tracks like semi-acoustic Someday, but boy the rest will continue to rock yer mutual asses. Freier Fall with its hypnotic doomy groove, the ominous Abschied, or the corny Verletzlich with its terrible monologue all left their marks with us. If anything, some parts kinda noodle about the soundscape a bit too much. But this is small fry when looking at the record as a whole.

Bottom line is, Ellenbogengesellschaft is a master class in Post Black Metal geekery. A record that rolls in on a pristine production that sports refined crossovers from roughest Black Metal to ambient and juicy atmospherics. All of that is elegantly garnished by shiny drops of doom, just enough of them but never too many. This lands us with an album sporting a smooth ebb and flow of harsh and soft. One that never gripes and – at the same time – will keep you in its deliciously cruel and sweaty grip until the last note echoes off those mighty mountain ranges.

Record Rating: 9/10 | LabelAOP Records | Web: Official Band Site
Release Date: 30 September 2022


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