Album Review: WALDGEFLÜSTER Meine Fesseln
Another masterstroke release from Bindrune Recordings, Germany's Waldgeflüster return with an album three years in the making. Called Meine Fesseln, one man mastermind Winterherz enlisted the help of many fine guest musicians to help complete his opus. Austin Lunn of Panopticon/Seidr fame contributes mandolin, guitar solos, and vocals, while renowned violinist Johann Becker of Austaras/Vukari, drummer Tobias Schuler‚ (Der Wegeiner Freiheit, Fuck You and Die), kantele player Janne Väätäinen of Haive, pianist Lukas Danninger of The Course is Black, and lastly vocalist Arvagr of Dagnir en Gwann all lend their exquisite sets of skills to the effort.
For those unfamiliar with the band, Waldgeflüster meld the complex trappings of black metal with an organic, layered approach to songwriting evoking the isolation and tragedy of Nature with emotive passages and haunting vocals. Think of a mix of Agalloch, Woods of Ypres, and Alcest dancing with Wodensthrone in an autumnal forest ebbing closer to the winter solstice. Winterherz can feature elements of all of these bands without losing one iota of individuality. His compositions sound like they've bled from his veins rather than spilled from his head.
The vocals on "Meine Fesseln" are diverse, adding to the heart-clutching emotion of the album. Voracious black metal screams interact with clean sung passages to ensure no stone in the metal pantheon goes un-turned. The songs within it rise and fall like the seasons, every note an homage to the melancholy spirit of the lone wanderer. Blasting sections effortlessly trade off with acoustic runs to erect monuments of splendor and emotion, as competent and lovely as anything by the finest purveyors of melancholic black metal today.
One other unique aspect of Meine Fesseln is the way in which the drums are produced. Though the music on offer can be beautiful – the songs evoking moods as ethereal as snow clad branches at dawn – the drums retain a distinctly black metal tone. The kick drum is deep, the robust snare lending a viciousness to the blasting passages which acts as a counterpoint to the songs' calmer moments.
Wolfherz' attention to detail is evident from start to finish on Meine Fesseln. The album will offer something new each time you spin it. And it doesn't matter one bit whether you know German or not, the sung vocal lines convey emotion well past the barriers of language. The clean passages have a power in them that the current, more shoegaze ilk can only dream about. Whereas those tend to sound one-dimensional to these ears, the singing on Meine Fesseln soars to heights of triumph and lows of pain many similar acts can only dream about. Think Thrawsunblat, the band which arose out of the ashes of Woods of Ypres, as a barometer of comparison. Waldgeflüster provide an unending cavalcade of these moments, as each song weaves seamlessly into the next, rendering Meine Fesseln into a living, breathing entity almost too sublime for words.
The above track, 'Wie Eine Wiede im Wind,' is a perfect example of the blending of genres which Waldgeflüster do so well. The song meanders without ever losing its way, reminiscent of icicles poised over a stream running with snow melt. There is a coldness to the riffs and the screamed vocals, but there is also a rich, organic warmth seeping up from beneath, speaking of a depth of feeling beyond simple concepts like hate and love and loss.
If you are having a hard time relating to the more clinical aspects of what Enslaved and Ihsahn are doing these days, or perhaps you find Alcest a little too fragile in delivery, then perhaps you long for more readily evident emotions in your music. Then allow Meine Fesseln to fill your ears and your heart with its gripping grandeur, and you will never be disappointed.