A somewhat subtle hype was discernible lately in the closed confines of the Black Metal fan crowd. Like the odours of a black mass on the breeze, wafting through the morbid realms of a lonesome and foggy cemetery. A subtle wave of expectation that went on for a while. But now they are here: After some two years of wait, the German band Thormesis released their newest and fifth full length album Trümmerfarben. Of course, expectations were high after their last offering Freier Wille – Freier Geist. This album got pretty high marks throughout the board. And rightly so: A bit rougher around the edges, the latter does indeed generate a certain wow-effect right from the get go. Now, what about this newest album here?
Trümmerfarben first and foremost comes along as an ‘It Depends’ record!
Because it really depends on what support you happen to blast this disc off from. If you use yer high-end earphones with their pretty stellar power of separation, the sound quality is bearable. If – however – you use regular boxes then things might look differently. In short, on studio-grade equipment you will get all elements – more or less. Not so on normal gear.
So, whoever in the mixing and mastering department gave such leeway to the drums and the titanesque banshee-like screeching deserves to be put in chains. Because these two elements often wreak havoc with separation and drown pretty much everything else out. As Travos – the master of guitars says and I quote: “…I wanted the whole thing to sound like a big hit with pressure – and it does…“. Well – yeah – mission fucking accomplished. There is so much pressure for some parts that you have difficulty discerning the rest. And this is a pity. Because once you get beyond the pressure cooker, the Black Metal underneath is pretty awesome.
So, what sound does Trümmerfarben really deliver?
Thormesis know how to raise expectations. They start with this soft sweet, kind of atmospheric melody by the name of Aeta Nova, just to lose the heavy artillery on you right after that. You will immerse in some 55 minutes of sturdy metal sandwiched into the aforementioned intro and an equally softie-minded outro. But that’s okay, because the bacon and hamburger in between are really spicy. With not a hint of cheese added.
Now, don’t expect anything breathtakingly new, this album is really latching on to its predecessor. If anything the delivery is more refined and a tad less rugged. I particularly liked their gallivanting around metal styles. Sometimes Thormesis sound like a derivative of Iron Maiden in a Heavy Metal parallel universe. With some low-level thrashing Metallica-style poured in. To round it up, you will find some select acoustics scattered around the soundscape – like in Im Stillen wachen die Toten.
That may not be to everybody’s gusto, but it does add quite some spice to the record. Especially some die-hard Black Metal fans may take offense at that. But hey, in the end Thormesis deliver real crunch. The record still melts its metal and pours it liquid and hot down into the loudness machine. Without losing themselves in needless atmospheric shenanigans. Nothing wrong with that now, is there?
On the other hand, Trümmerfarben now renders a more mid-tempo leaning tune. And this may indeed be more palatable to the mean mainstream. Now, never fear: I am talking about the metal mainstream. There will be no hip-hop wankery all of a sudden turning up at one of their concerts.
The album takes off with their title song no less!
Straight into a melodeath drenched crunch-walk. Sets the direction, doesn’t it? But they really get going with Waheelas Fähre and back this one up in Lodernd Flammen. And I gotta tell ya: I really like the hint of melody in this metal delivery from the cold realms of Hel.
Yet at certain points – like in Verblasst – the album almost stumbles across this thin red line, where things get a tad too commercially minded. But later you will find redemption in a bit more lively and nice Black Metal dissonance mixed into a pretty Heavy Metal, almost thrashy medley of pure and shiny metal.
Will the album be worth your time?
Trümmerfarben delivers real metal crunch, no less. A rugged and resilient kind of metal that is a pleasure to behold. The way they mix the more melodic and acoustic parts into this mighty bowl of metal stew gets you enough variation to keep the record interesting up to the very end. If only they could have controlled the mixing and mastering buttons a bit better, this would have turned out so much better. So, if you can move beyond the over-present screaming and dominant drum work, you should definitely give it a try. After all, they serve metal and this is what you came for. Right?