The first thing that leaps out on seeing the sophomore album from the Southern German symphonic black metallers was the artwork; it’s a beautifully dark, exquisitely detailed example of how good album covers can be, imbuing the holder with a senses of both dread and anticipation. So, it looks good, but how does it sound? It’s not often that black metal bands can combine the Planet Hoth-level cold, isolating, wind scorched sounds associated with the genre with melodies, structures and harmonies without losing some of the impact of either, but Totengeflüster have introduced an almost graceful balance to their songs that belies any initial impression one may have. Songs such as ‘Extinct Paradise’ has a riff that will stick in your head for days, ‘Grant Us Thy Blessing’ twists and bends more times in three and a half minutes than the Bealach na Ba, and ‘Entflamme Mich’ is Rammstein-esque in its structure and variance in vocal delivery. The dance between the pitch black and shimmering light is continually replayed; the light giving moments of reflection and relief, but a longing for the darkness to descend once more is never far away, the sounds persistently gnawing at our deepest fears.
Yes, the blast beats are there, along with the blackened vocals, dive-bombing guitars and Hades-fuelled bass detonations but impressively, each song is discernible from the next, with their own textures, rhythms and overarching sense of grandiose theatre. Black metal purists may baulk at the precision, the production, the whole symphonic shtick on display here but ignore them; they don’t know what they’re missing. Totengeflüster have stripped down the elements of a genre that at times takes itself far too seriously and rebuilt it into something much more imposing.
The Faceless Divine album is out now via Black Lion Records and can be purchased here.
Words: Scott Crawford