It is undoubted by me that many fans of martial industrial music — as well as its misguided political enemies — will take a few glances at the artwork of Barbarossa Umtrunk‘s Der Talisman des Rosenkreuzers: La Mission Secrete du Baron Sebottendorf and simply write it off as yet another over-played, war-torn Western European militant vision with Lovecraftian dark ambient texturing and vague esoteric themes. This would be a callous mistake. Not unbeknownst to all, yet still far too many, Barbarossa Umtrunk is one of the most well-versed and intellectually sound artists in the genre, preferring to keep his head buried in one of his many French occult historical books rather than churn out mountains of hollow, soulless tracks. There are a great deal of inspirations deeply seeded within every crevice of Der Talisman…, and they exist seemingly in every direction, from the primary figure that this release lies in dedication to, Baron Rudolf von Sebbotendorf, to the book that he wrote of the same name as this album, as well as the ethnic inspirations that incorporate the sound of ancient indigenous tribes and shamans from the East and the militant orchestrations and ritual mysticism of the West.
Many of these mentioned books from the previous paragraph are based around the legendary Thule Society, including Jean Mabire‘s Thulé, le Soleil retrouvé des Hyperboréens, J.M. Angebert‘s Hitler et la Tradition Cathare, and Jean Robin’s Hitler, L’élu du Dragon; it is a society for which much has been written and discussed within the metaphysical realm, and whose intentions persist even today in the form of artists like Barbarossa Umtrunk. There is so much more to this album than meets the eye immediately, however. From The Lords of the Black Stone (“Die Herren Vom Schwarzen Stein”), whom Sebottendorf is rumored to have met with in 1917 to reportedly receive the power of their Holy “Grahl”, to the Japanese (or other oriental nationalities, depending on your source) Order of the Green Dragon (“l’Elu du Dragon Vert”) whom are almost completely veiled in mystery, Der Talisman… stretches the world over, but rather than do so in front of prying eyes in the light of day, the album weaves through meta-history, stitching up vague group after esoteric reference, in a way creating a new world that lies somewhere in the foggy realm between reality and fiction.
Beyond these numerous thematic historical references, there are a great many musical comparisons to be made on Der Talisman…, from the opening “Halgadom” which goes a long way in crafting a Lovercraftian tribal ambience not unlike that of Maculatum‘s recent The Nameless City, to the Dead Can Dance-like ethnic, subtly percussive mantras of the title track; from epic Western martial sampling à la Oda Relicta, to the sophisticated, melancholic neoclassic dark ambience of Der Blaue Reiter, and perhaps even a distinct, brooding ancient nature-based atmosphere that comes through only in the rarest and most profound artists like Harvest Rain — moments of poetic genius that have the power to shape the way one hears music entirely. It’s all there — musical elements every bit as diverse and powerful as the texts that influence Baron von S.‘s esoteric approach to it. A cauldron of potential, filled to the brim with wisdom and violently bubbling with inspiration. Unlike so many projects whom delve into these subjects, through the music, the knowledge is at least faintly visible through the fog in which it exists. It isn’t completely veiled by vagueness and ambiguity, and that is not only admirable, but impressive.
That said, no amount of thematic brilliance is a substitution for structural and compositional short-comings. There are some unfortunate glaring downsides to Der Talisman…. There are more than a few instances when layers don’t line up — not just barely missing each other, but rather they are blatantly off from one another, perhaps — in several cases — because of conflicting time signatures. These moments are confusing to the ear, and unfortunately, though sincere in intent, “Deutschland Erwache!” specifically comes off as unintentionally sarcastic in tone, lacking much power and reminds of the “Shunya Revolution” visual work from Andrei Azsacra that has potential, but comes off as amateur — an ironic realization, considering the Indo-european fixation of both artists.. On the lesser end of complaints, the are a couple of loops, specifically in “Veilleur, on en est la Nuit” and “Oberland Freikorps” that are delayed enough in their repetition that it becomes distracting. Do these negative aspects distract from the overall quality of the release? Unfortunately, for some portions of the CD, yes. The upside to that is the fact that the best moments, those moments when the experimental, occultist tendencies are laid aside in favor of lush arrangements, bombastic undercurrents and/or expansive, deep bass-end dark ambience.
The potential present with this release is staggering. It is my hope that, in the future, the good Baron will take more time to bring his music to a new level of quality that is worthy of the themes that he discusses.
02) Veilleur, on en est la Nuit
04) Der Talisman des Rosenkreuzers
05) Yenitcheri Ersen Faust
07) Deutschland Erwache!
08) Oberland Freikorps
09) l’Hotel des Quatre Saisons
10) Yenitcheri Ersen Faust
11) Gotal Halgarita
12) l’Elu du Dragon Vert
13) Die Herren Vom Schwarzen Stein
A special thank you to the wonderful interview on Cooking with Satan for illuminating so many of these facts about Barbarossa Umtrunk.