Tuesday 26 August 2014

KRIEG - Transient (Album Review)

Transient cover art

Album Type: Album
Date Released: 02nd September 2014
Label: Candlelight Records

Transient - track listing:

1.Order Of the Solitary Road
2.Circling the Drain
3.Return Fire
4.To Speak With Ghosts
5.Atlas With A Broken Arm
8.Walk With Them Unnoticed
9.Ruin Our Lives
11.Gospel Hand

Band Members

J. Dost (Drums)
N. Jameson (Vocals, Various Instruments)
A. Poole (Guitars)
D. Sykes (Bass)
D. Zdanavage (Guitars)


In an age where black metal is widely coupled with the ‘experimental’ sounds of harsh electronics, shoegazing post-rock, synthesizers, or pretty much anything that deviates from the blueprints designed in the early 80s, it takes a band with gusto and imagination to really tread the line between orthodox and heterodox and do so with a smooth grace. Then again, when you really think about it, you could say that Krieg were there from the beginning. So should it really be a surprise that, 20 years later, they’re still summoning up the frigid and mean-spirited black metal that we’ve all come to savour? Should it be a surprise that even though they’ve retained that very sound, one can still hear the signs of the age-wreaked schism that visits right before the urge to adventure and experiment?

Then again, is it any surprise that this isn’t the same band that recorded those early demos? No. That’s because this hate-fueled machine from Somers Point, New Jersery, has seen more members come and go over the years than Gene Simmons has seen vagina. About the only constant within the band has been vocalist Imperial, otherwise known (on this record in particular) as N. Jameson. Switching to his real (?) name for this release is quite symbolic of this record’s maturity.

With Transient, Krieg are a two-headed serpent. One head represents the old, the orthodox, the malignant black metal sound carefully crafted by drunken teenagers under Norway’s frozen moon. On the other head we have dark ambiance, deep and cavernous soundscapes that haunt the entire record and subsequently culminate in bizarre, spoken-word passages that jolt and buzz with noise and feedback. It’s rough and heavy enough for the sexless, joyless, mountain-dwelling kvltists, and modern enough for the sexless, joyless, city-dwelling hipsters.

That was a joke, by the way. Smile for fuck’s sake.

Transient eases in with eidolic waves of feedback and alien static before erupting into a full sonic barrage including cancerous vocals, an obese drum sound, and forlorn strings that give-way to the odd headbanger riff here and there. The first few tracks, most notably ‘Return to Fire’ and ‘Atlas with a Broken Arm’, keep the kettle boiled, and you’re given a warrior’s performance of cataclysmic metal skulduggery throughout. However, a promise is made during ‘To Speak with Ghosts’ and comes to fruition during the second half, as we begin our descent into the outré of the record. But not before we get our teeth into a cover of Amebix’s ‘Winter’, which I must admit sounds pretty good considering I’d rather give myself a facial with a tub of hot wax than listen to Amebix for any longer than three minutes.

As previously stated, the second half of this record is batshit insane as most black metal records go. It isn’t ‘Sigh insane’, but it’s still delightfully bizarre and atmospheric. ‘Walk With Them Unnoticed’ elaborates further on the shoegazing element introduced earlier on in the album, right before snapping back into snarling, black metal form. ‘Ruin Our Lives’ arrives despondent and canorous before mutating into a drug-induced wall of digital noise complete with a slow, resonant drum machine pattern. There really are a lot of small instances of experimentation, or more accurately the employment of electronics, towards the end of Transient, and it’s hard to tell if this is an adventurous move or simply keeping with the zeitgeist. Album closer, ‘Gospel Hand’, bites back with vicious fervour after a seven minute and thirty-eight second long detour into a spoken-word dream sequence titled ‘Home’.

As stated previously, this record has something for both the fans of traditional and the new wave of scientists floating around your local metal boozer. It’s not too ‘out there’, but it’s just odd enough to stay interesting. It’ll either be a hit, or it’ll send the Internet forums into a rage-drunk frenzy. Both outcomes are good.

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Written by Liam Doyle

Thanks to Darren at Candlelight Records for the promo. Transient will be available to buy from Candlelight Records from 2nd September 2014.