Sturmführer is another bit of blatant Neonazi political propaganda (if you don’t see it elsewhere, you won’t miss the giant swastika making up the entire CD itself on the 2006 version) from the SSP / Audial Decimations Records front that, like in the recent Intolitarian review, we have to warn is a strong piece of music but contains highly questionable ideologies that we do not condone or promote, and in fact stand against. That said, Sturmführer is a solo alias of Craig Pillard that existed between the five-year period of 2002 to 2006, and while it’s possible that Pillard still considers the project “active”, his priority as of late has been Methadrone — a project more geared towards ethereal dark ambience that has found support through well-known names in the scene such as the defunct NOTHingness REcords and Foreshadow Productions, as well as, most recently, ConSouling Sounds. Even Methadrone, however, seems to have dropped out of the music realm as of 2009 in favor of Pillard going back to his death metal roots with Profound Lore Records’ Disma. Sturmführer has also made a bit of noise again lately, however, as Audial Decimation has recently released the 2006 EP “Niemals Vergessen” on 12″ LP format, hence the need to revisit an old release here.
Sturmführer tackles a style of martial industrial that is sincerely bleak if not all-out war-driven, opting out of taking a path towards the cinematic style that is heard more in projects like March of Heroes and instead going with a sound that is slowed down to the level of being dark ambient and doom-oriented. The project is proficient at creating overwhelming atmosphere that attempts to bring the listener back to World War II-era Germany in the sense of both reliving war-time blood-thirsty nationalism through Germanic speech samples of the era, as well as bring the listener into the hopeless void that was life on the fronts of war-torn Europe. Thus, the title of the album, “Niemals Vergessen” or “Never Forget” is certainly fitting in bringing the past to the present for the listener to experience; albeit with a sense of dread instead of potential pride because of the vehement attitude behind the industrial compositions. The second track specifically, “Das Bunker” (“The Bunker”) is a work of almost pure dark ambience that is composed of a dense bass-end drone that includes the sound of distant, muffled artillery and perfectly exemplifies the atmosphere and emotion of waiting for the bombing to approach closer as artillery, and perhaps thunder, edges closer through a swelling of volume. Even the project’s title, “Sturmführer”, is a direct reference to a rank within the Sturmabteilung that literally means “assault leader” — though I find it strange, if not troubling due to historical inaccuracy, to coin a term that was mostly used in World War I when the project focuses so heavily on the era of World War II.
I have to admit that if Pillard hadn’t gone out on a limb and accepted an interview (that portrays him as strikingly ignorant if not unintelligent) that expressed his direct intentions with this release, one could have simply said that this album is a work that tries to exemplify, as accurately as possible, a Germanic, National Socialist view of World War II through the guise of artistic creation. Even then, it still would have been controversial, but “Niemals Vergessen” is, in fact, an expression of Pillard’s direct political beliefs. The honest truth is that the music is profoundly effective in atmosphere with a sincerity that is rarely heard in martial industrial, but with that comes the realization that sincerity within these themes will also often equal truly questionable politics, and, inevitably, music that is more pure in the core attributes of the aesthetic. This doesn’t hold true for everyone, however, as one doesn’t have to look any further than a project like Sinweldi to understand that honest intentions, however controversial, do not equal talent.
Side A: Niemals Vergessen
Side B: Das Bunker