Review: Sturmtiger “Transcendent Warfare” [Demented Omen of Masochism]

Review: Sturmtiger “Transcendent Warfare” [Demented Omen of Masochism]

- in Reviews

The last summer, the Danish death/black metal band Sturmtiger (now based in the United Kingdom) released their second studio album Transcendent Warfare after an almost decade-long hiatus, joining forces with the independent label Demented Omen of Masochism. Although it wasn’t complete silence from them, as they released several splits and demos during these nine years, fans were eagerly anticipating new material with good sound quality, meticulous artwork, and a sense of conceptual integrity.

Sturmtiger, named after the German assault gun from the World War II era, by all definitions plays that very hellish blend of black and death metal, known as war metal, choosing military themes for their lyrics. In light of recent events, some bands have come under attack for idealizing war in their lyrics. It’s a strange assertion; unfortunately, humanity has not yet reached a level of enlightenment where conflicts are resolved without the need to destroy everything and kill en masse. Therefore, to stop singing about it, to erase such a significant part of history (which consists of about 90 percent of military actions and conflicts) would simply mean ignoring the problem. If death metal bands suddenly all start singing about the beauty of life, and black metal musicians embrace Jesus as their savior, it would destroy the very spirit of extreme metal.

Sturmtiger is quite an old band; last year they celebrated their twentieth anniversary, thus giving themselves and fans of war metal a wealthy present. While they may not be particularly prolific, who said that quantity is better than quality? At a glance, it is evident how conscientiously composed this album is, with every detail polished to perfection, while still exuding rawness and underground spirit. Sometimes this messiness sounds a bit noisy, thereby emphasizing the brutality and dirtiness of the album in a sufficiently chaotic form. But the chaos here isn’t so random and uncontrollable; it distorts the perception of clarity in rather small proportions. These stern enthusiasts of military topics know perfectly well how to convey the spirit of despair, constant devastation, and the glorification of death – clearly not sitting on a cozy sofa buried in their iPhones, but in the mud of trenches and in the mass graves on the outskirts of scorched forests. Life is far from thriving in the camp of Sturmtiger.

The album kicks off very dynamically and aggressively with “Forced March”, setting the pace for the entire album and showcasing its noisy potential right from the start. It’s like old school death/thrash with a spirit of eternal struggle. “War is Eternal” is even more classic and nostalgic, taking you back to the 1980s while adhering to all the canons of classic blackened death metal. When they start playing with dissonant patterns, it becomes even more interesting, increasing the level of disarray and pulling more distortion out of the music. The final track, “Universal Eradicator” particularly indulges in this, and is slightly tilted towards experimental territory, even allowing trying on a term “post-“. But no, you won’t find any post-black or modern death tricks here; Transcendent Warfare is a classic album with respect for tradition, yet Sturmtiger still maintains their signature style, enriching their music with something new. Sometimes the album leans towards black metal, sometimes it even reminds you of old-school heavy metal, but for the most part, the rhythmic patterns, vocal lines, and distorted low sound tip the scales towards the realm of relentless death metal.

The artwork is designed quite symbolically, illustrating everything essential for a band playing war metal – a dying soldier, mud, depressive rusty colors, those scorched forests with mass graves, and merciless predators nearby. The spirit of war captured in one picture perfectly complements this dirty, harsh, and heartless music. Sturmtiger, who stylistically lean more towards the American death/black metal school, diligently weave threads of death in their shrewd and straightforward way, and their latest creation “Transcendent Warfare” is an excellent example of that.

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