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|4.||Des Alten Kriegers Seelenruh|
|5.||Amarok - Zorn des Lammes|
|6.||Das Schwarze Gemälde|
|7.||Vom Traum, Die Menschheit Zu Töten|
Review for 'Nargaroth - Herbstleyd'
One cannot talk about Black Metal at length without mentioning one of the finest Black Metal albums ever made. From start to finish, everything about Herbstleyd is breathtaking. The album's title roughly translates into English as "Autumnal Suffering", although to be honest Herbstleyd generally gives off a more uplifting and inspiring feeling than what the title would have you expect.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Nargaroth, it is the Black Metal solo project that was originated by German musician René "Kanwulf" Wagner, and if one wanted to draw superficial comparisons to the Norwegian Black Metal scene, it could be said that Nargaroth is Germany's answer to Burzum, with many musical and conceptual themes bearing some resemblence, in addition to also being a "one man band". That said, guitarist Charoon has contributed session guitars on almost all recordings of Nargaroth's albums.
Herbstleyd is Nargaroth's debut full length, and released in December 1998 through No Colours Records, a German record label currently known for releasing albums by the likes of Nokturnal Mortum, Inquisition and Graveland. Until then, Nargaroth had only released the Orke demo and the Herbstleyd demo earlier in 1998, however the sheer quality present in the songwriting on Herbstleyd makes it hard to believe that this really is Nargaroth's first full length studio recording. Not much is known about Kanwulf's musical experience prior to the formation of Nargaroth, but one thing is certain, he was born with a talent for music.
The first thing one notices upon listening to Herbstleyd is the seemingly never-ending epic introduction, spanning everything from burning pyres and battle sounds to pagan chants and howling winds. However, before you dismiss this as the typical overdone run of the mill Black Metal intro, this beautiful introduction is worth every second. It all makes perfect sense and the build-up successfully sets the mood for the rest of the album. This is, after all, the prime purpose of any decent intro, although it's hard to come across anything quite like what is presented here. The long-lived intro spans approximately half of the first track, itself titled "Herbstleyd", which clocks in at just over 16 minutes in total, although this isn't the longest track on the album.
Once the intro is over, Herbstleyd slowly reveals what it's all about throughout the remainder of the first track, starting with what is just one of many instantly memorable riffs to be found on the album, the kind which stick in your head long after the first listen, being complimented perfectly all the while by careful use of keyboards and samples, all interwoven with all manner of brief and adequately placed instrumental interludes.
While the rest of the album basically follows the same formula, one is never given the impression that the songs are repeating themselves in the slightest, with all of the tracks being quite distinct from one another, each with it's own fitting riffs, samples and overall atmosphere. Because of this, it's hard to declare one "stand out" track from them all, as they are all equally impressive. However, Herbstleyd's longest tracks, "Herbstleyd", "Amarok - Zorn Des Lammes" and "Vom Traum, Die Menschheit Zu Töten", being approximately 16, 18 and 10 minutes long respectively, are definately the more memorable songs simply due to the lengthly atmospheric build-up and general sense of epicness that they each portray.
Another track worth mentioning is "Das Schwarze Gemälde", standing out not only as the album's only purely instrumental track, but also because it sounds so fucking amazing, and it is the perfect interlude before Herbstleyd comes to an end with the majestic "Vom Traum, Die Menschheit Zu Töten".
Normally, the use excessive of samples and keyboards in Black Metal is dismissed as cheesy, pretentious, false and generally frowned upon, laughed at, hated, or considered to be detracting from the overall feel that any Black Metal album is supposed to transmit. When you listen to Herbstleyd, however, you will realize that there is actually a right way of doing it, and not only is there a right way of doing it, as has been proven by the likes of Burzum, Emperor, Negură Bunget or Drautran, but there is also a perfect way of doing it. Over the course of the album, all the beautiful keyboard elements and samples presented within the intro make recurring appearances in one form or another at just the right moments, blending in seamlessly and joining the album together. Regardless of their frequency, they are by no means excessive.
All this, combined with the distinct vocal performance and what can only be described as some really fantastic Black Metal riffs all composed by Kanwulf himself, are what make Herbstleyd an album of truly epic proportions that cannot be ignored.
What other albums sound similar to this?
Fortunately, Nargaroth has an extensive discography with a few gems that are very similar in style and quality to Herbstleyd, with Geliebte Des Regens and especially the Amarok compilation bearing most resemblance. As for other bands with similar albums, be sure to check out Autumn Aurora by Drudkh, Melancholie² by Coldworld, Graveforests And Their Shadows by Walknut, Hvis Lyset Tar Oss by Burzum, Throne Of The Depths by Drautran, Hoffnungslos by Brocken Moon, Forestheart by Marblebog, Irrwisch's self-titled demo, Stillhallen by Deathgate Arkanum, Der Wind Hat Mir ein Lied Erzählt by Fornost and Bergtatt Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler by Ulver to name a few.
Although there are many albums out there with a similar style and execution to Nargaroth, Herbstleyd has that special something that ranks it above all others.
In a nutshell...
Nargaroth's Herbstleyd will forever stand as one of Black Metal's most epic, inspirational and perfectly composed works, turning what could be separately described as simplistic guitars, standard drumming, repetitive riffs, and the standard use of keyboards and samples into something that is stunning and beyond beautiful.
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