Who works most in a band?
That’s right, the drummer. Especially metal drummers have a tough time keeping track of those often convoluted melodies. This leads to episodes like the misadventure of one Jukka Nevalainen, formerly of Nightwish. The man who lost all of his sleep over his mighty boom bins.
But worst off are the stick wielders of Black and Extreme Metal bands. That’s where folks often try to kill their bandmates with complicated drum patterns. It is of course also true that he or she work sitting down. But – boy – their job feels like being on a treadmill at high speed for hours, and at the same time hitting the punch bag. Constantly.
And that is enough to exhaust me simply by listening.
Now, this is also the first impression I get from the third album The Faceless Divine of the German band Totengeflüster. And indeed, wild drum patterns assault your eardrums once the watery intro finally ended. Until you find out that there’s a whole band contributing too.
In truth, these guys forge ahead with an energy that I always missed in the stuff Thormesis delivered some time back. The record serves this newish type of Black Metal that artfully fuses symphonics and cinematics with traditional extreme beats. And here, they come complete with bobcat rasps at power levels of an Angela Gossow.
The Scandinavian-tuned purists will – you guessed it – loathe this kind of Black Metal record with a hateful vengeance. But hey, the sadly worn Gorgoroth-esque antics often start to feel stale these days. There’s only so much you can add to that. Like in Symphonic Metal, a territory claimed by many, but really conquered by few.
And that is why we appreciated The Faceless Divine right from the get-go.
It feeds the greedy fan base with a style somewhat similar to what Dark Mirror ov Tragedy did so well earlier this year. That said, Totengeflüster‘s tune also carries a lot of the qualities Dimmu Borgir and – for sure – Carach Angren bring to the table. Plus a few elements of obscure outfits like AntimateriA.
Death and desolation is their credo. And truly, the whole record exudes this sense of doom and damnation. But without the typical accouterments, which – thinking about it – is a good thing. And for those wanting to take the fast track, think again. You need to savor this disc. Give it time to mature. This is like some sort of unholy wine without enough blood in it to please the dark tastes of these ominous supporters.
The band couldn’t resist the dreaded intro, or maybe some nitwit told them that this would be needed ‘for atmosphere’. But gosh, once that specific tribulation is over, they waste no time. On Carrion Wings does carry you down to the place where the unclean horrors dwell. Full Black Metal Jacket, if there ever was one. Complete with a solo, to add some spice.
And you’ll immediately get an aftershot, more rotten meat on decayed bones with The Hollow Wanderer (Cursed). Now this one is indeed far away from the beginnings of the frugal Black Metal style. But it does pack a powerful beat that has become prevalent in many of the more modern Black Metal offerings.
The same goes with The Hunt, a sublime Extreme Metal concoction with frugal piano notes thrown in for good measure. Well yeah, sometimes you wonder where this all leads to, but it does add to its allure. And the vocalist sounds like some crazed version of Dani Filth on steroids.
The RMR deck crew did take an insane liking to Affliction, though. And with reason. By Loki, this is one of the best and probably darkest potion since Darkend came along. And [nervous laughter] you’ll even find nods to Maiden-esque beats sitting square in the mix.
And methinks that Totengeflüster are on a journey, way beyond the strict boundaries that Extreme Metal demands. I usually don’t comment on bonus tracks. But the low-tempo, tortured Entflamme Mich (ignite me) really fascinated me. Acoustics, painful clear voice contributions and the most devilish rasp on this disk so far, drive this home beautifully. This sounds like some outlandish German version of Red Cain that lost itself in the ghostly crypt of an ancient cathedral. Absolutely and utterly juicy.
Alright, we finally have to admit it.
Totengeflüster did not really invent new stuff, but this record truly is a versatile chunk of darkly roasted metal. Yet again, the band presents its wares pretty much like a traditional down-in-the-pit Black Metal piece.
Because by Astaroth and its minions, these guys service their fans with an unholy gusto and the occasional stellar solo. In other words, tradition rulez will apply, but with a modern tinge that cannot and should not be denied. This renders this record issued from an often sadly worn-out and sometimes almost prostrate genre suddenly interesting in more ways than one.
The Faceless Divine is an undoubtedly powerful concoction. Carefully crafted and always on message. A forceful metal stew, cooked to perfection and served blazing hot. One that will prove a challenge to their brethren to beat. A powerful challenge, indeed.
The album releases on 11 October 2019.
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