Last updated on 13 January 2021
I am mad today. Black, raging mad. Eyes turning dark and glowing, horns growing on my front kind of mad. A real cosmic rage of epic proportions is roaring through my dark veins.
So, what better time to violate a few principles. Even if the mighty god of blogging sez that thou shalt not turn against his Sacred Rulez. Hoots! So, the first one stipulates that you should not review records older than a few months. And for sure not those of last year.
The second one is to kick some high level, festival-cognizant, and big label savvy attendants out the door. And favor a little known band instead. Just this once, oh mighty forces of the blog police. Even if the CTR1) risks moving South because of that and the SEO rating will drown itself. But who cares about SEO anyway, right Yoast?
In that same, evilly dark spirit: What better tune is there to soothe that lava-hot blaze inside yours truly than some undeniably raging Black Metal. The 2017 record La Névrose de la Pierre (the neurosis of the stone in English) from the French band Geisterfels2) was just what the Dark Lord ordered. They boast a spicy mixture between present-day Myrkur without the weird chanting, some Zeit and Forteresse, and a lot of Gorgoroth and Bathory. All of that seemingly with a medieval flavor added to it. In other words, you’ll get old-style Black Metal from the ’90s mixed with some of the contemporary modernism that is currently afloat in the genre.
The band was called into unholy existence by Nebel3) aka Céline Rosenheim in 2013 for sake of composition and lyrics. Ms. Rosenheim is – by the way – also known for her book writing skills. In Vampire Lore, no less. So, right up there with her musical urges so aptly displayed on Geisterfels‘ debut. The project was later joined by Aldébaran of Darkenhöld for instruments and Aharon (Griffon) for vocals. Now, this answers some of my queries on delivery and sound. Because part of that does have a certain taste of Darkenhöld to it, whilst I would not cite the band as a direct influence.
La Névrose de la Pierre sports the tale of a French poet at the end of the 19th century. One who visited too many castle ruins in the Rhine and Mosel valleys. And likely went mad because of it. All that lore expresses itself in poem-esque lyrics in French and German. So far so good, right? If only the words on the tracks would not be such an intelligible mess. I get it, this may not be much different than other Black Metal records, but this is beyond the point. Because guys – really – even the short spoken part on Im Nebel turns into gobbledygook, the accent is so bad. And I am fluent in French and German.
Yet still, the lyrics together with the sound paint a score of Victorian era, almost baroque, tableaux of mystique, bloody violence, and desperation. And that’s pretty delicious in my book – and straight in the era the storyline plays. It is only a pity that you need to dive into the booklet to really get a sense of what the lyrics mean first. Long story short, you’ll find a typically Gothic approach to their tune. In this aspect, Geisterfels‘ would better qualify as blackened Gothic Metal than anything else.
I do like the no-nonsense approach Geisterfels take in La Névrose de la Pierre. You’ll find no dicking around with weird chanting at the beginning. By the 9th second of the opening track Les Ruines du Castel the growling starts full speed. This is good, no holds barred, old-style Black Metal. The ever-present, merciless, expert riffing of Aldébaran will add that background dance that you will find difficult to escape. And don’t I like the hidden, little solos that Geisterfels built into their tune at some specific spots.
La Névrose de la Pierre seriously steps on the gas by mid-point, with some powerfully turbulent dissonance seldom found this side of Extreme Metal. Geisterfels – the track – will impress with an extremely powerful demonstration of how Black Metal ought to sound. But then they kick it up a notch. With a taste of Todtgelichter that appears on Der Tod und Die Schwarze Gräfin. Bound into a cobweb of desperate, shouted German lyrics to boot. And those are actually discernible for a change, but exceptions do confirm the rule. Right?
To conclude, Geisterfels managed to bridge the gap between the somewhat austere ’90s style of Black Metal and today’s offerings. La Névrose de la Pierre delivers one powerful, ominously glowing, yet juicy slab of Black Metal. All of that clad in a strangely Gothic, somewhat tactfully melodic robe.
The diet Geisterfels feeds you may feel like an overly sturdy fare of metal shards. But in the end, the band managed to craft a truly succulent, dark gift from the fiery pit for the metal connoisseur. Great record, folks. We’ll be on the lookout for more.
Get dat tune:
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