|4 (1 votes):|
To me, raw black metal seems like the real deal. Raw sound, raw emotion, raw… rawness. Of course, there are bands that laze around all day just screeching over fuzz, but for every two-bit raw metal outfit, I’d wager there’s a genuinely interesting band like Faustus. A duo from the black pit of Leipzig, Germany, they bring us their EP entitled Lipsia via Careless Records. Not a game-changer by any means, but at a sizable 29 minutes (technically 37), it’s certainly a bite-size bit of black metal brooding.
What this album gets right is what I think most black metal lacks in general: good songwriting. I’d say half of the songs on this EP have at least one memorable riff, which are laced deliciously with a subtle hint of melody. They feel and sound almost epic in a way, contrasting with the melancholic and almost depressive style of music. The best example is a riff that’s in the untitled 6th track, which appears in the middle of the rack, then reappears at the end to close the EP out. It swells and dips beautifully between notes, making it the perfect one to end on. This kind of songwriting goes a long way, as it’s the most memorable and enjoyable aspect of the EP, one that has me coming back to the songs over and over. The only downside to these riffs is that there aren’t enough of them. Each of the songs really like coming back to the same riffs over, and over again, which they aren’t afraid to hide. Each song, barring the first one, is four to seven minutes long, so it’s a lifesaver that each riff ranges from good to amazing. The EP might get repetitive at times, but in this flurry of darkness, it’s a warm and welcome repetition.
Another aspect nailed on this EP is the atmosphere. The fuzzy storm of the guitars, ceaseless drums, shrill screams, occasional keyboard swells and the all-around rough mix scream freezing cold and restless winter. This EP sounds like it was recorded in the middle of the nastiest blizzard in the deep reaches of the unforgiving north. Funnily enough, though this can be considered “raw black metal”, it honestly sounds pretty “decent” by regular black metal standards. Remarkable, considering this was recorded in 2004, where just by the virtue of inferior technology, it was likely to sound worse. Also, in keep with this cold atmosphere, there’s an added level of creepiness thanks to the use of samples. Think like negative-ASMR, that makes you feel uncomfortable, like on the third track El Satan conduit le bal. I would say most of the samples aren’t too overbearing, but then there’s the 12 minute beast of a track Leipzige Mitternacht, which is a normal track for the first four minutes, but then devolves into a minimalist repetition of what sounds like a newton’s cradle for 8 minutes. You can easily skip it, but it’s still annoying regardless.
As for the instrumentation there are elements I enjoy and elements that are just ok. I’ve already sung the praise of the riffs, so I won’t say much for the guitars other than that they nailed their respective parts. The bass is par for the course when it comes to black metal, and much like a person in a blizzard, are buried under the flurry of the guitars, occasionally peaking its head out to make an appearance. The keyboards are solely for enhancing the chilling mood, never rise above the guitars, and are scarce throughout the whole EP. Moving on to drums, they have their fair share of typical blast beats but offer some variation to break up the monotony. As for the vocals, they get the job done in keep with the atmosphere and style of the EP. The shrieks, growls and howls of Resurgemus are cold, frigid and fuzzy. They aren’t too special or unique compared to other vocalists out there but for the EP, they absolutely get the job done, and do a good job enhancing the bleak emotion of the EP.
All in all, Lipsia is black metal done right in my books. While not all the tracks bring a tremendous impact, the ones that do are as memorable as they are petrifying, with flexes of melody as well as epic elements. Faustus wrote back in 2004 what a lot of bands can’t write right now: memorable riffs. So much black metal is just uninspired and tedious tremolo riffing, and while Lipsia is guilty of having repetition as well, at least it’s repetition worth listening to. All I can wish for now is that it doesn’t take another 15 years for Faustus to make a full-length.
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