Review / Urfaust – Teufelsgeist

In a 2011 interview, Urfaust stated that their reason to exist was to execute “our alcoholic rites” and it is within this context that their extensive discography falls into place. Their earlier work such as Der Freiwillige Bettler (The Voluntary Beggar) and Ritual Music for the True Clochard were a paralytic and wholly unique interpretation of black metal that sounded like it could have been recorded in the back streets of a working class district in any 18th century European city. While their most recent albums Empty Space Meditation and The Constellatory Practice lost some of that drunken incoherence and urgency in favour of languorous doom influences that sound more like the creep of an early hangover. In swapping out the DIY lo-fi production quality they ironically lost the swampy and viscous atmosphere they wanted to capture with better production on their later albums.

Urfaust’s latest album clocks in at about 30 minutes, one of their shortest albums to date, and from the first song “Offerschaal der astrologische mengvormen” captures the unpredictable and operatic sombreness of their earlier releases. IX’s finds a new confidence on Teufelsgeist, which is evident as his voice ranges from an anguished guttural howl to the soaring tenor heard on the opening track. The instrumentation is more diverse than their most recent releases, and despite the short running time, IX and VRDRBR are able to capture the ambience of an intoxicated cosmic séance. Throughout the album IX sounds like he is trying to invoke celestial demons, one moment in psychotic ecstasy, the next plunging into an alcoholic induced wretchedness and despair. His laments are over some of the finest synth programming from a metal band recently, as eldritch melodies cascade on “Offerschaal der astrologische mengvormen”,  while track 2 “Bloedsacrament voor de geestenzieners” and track 3 “Van alcoholische verbittering naar religieuze cult” makes use of burning synth drones and glistening melodies to hint at pleasures underneath their cloak of darkness. Track 4, “De filosofie van een gedesillusioneerde”, is the only to introduce a guitar, and is the most conventional song on the album.

For such a short album, Teufelsgeist evokes the spirit of all Urfaust’s prior work. Utilising a wider range of sonic devices, they are able to draw on their post-punk and neofolk influences while still maintaining the feeling of pure alcohol induced abjection. They conjure the primal emotion that fans of their earlier work will be familiar with, at the same time utilising electronic instrumentation to build a textural richness to their sound.

Teufelsgeist is out on 27th November and can be purchased here.

Words: Joe-Julian Naitsri

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