Upon the discovery of :Werra:‘s debut album, MMI – MMV, one may think that they have stumbled upon some sort of cold Germanic dark ambient mysticism that is firmly embraced by the hidden radiance of the natural world. The album artwork is completely devoid of life, with the exception of one stubbornly persistent tree, giving the potential listener the chance to witness the burning glory yet ultimately ephemeral strength of life to conquer, and the unending balance that is held between that life and nature. The hazy, ethereal blue of Winter at dusk dominates the snowy plateau, bringing with it the lack of hope for any kind of coming warmth as the sun, long-hidden behind unforgiving clouds, now ventures to the other side of the world, leaving only blackness in its wake. But as the truth comes to light through the opening moments of “Sturmesweihe”, the music of :Werra: blooms into a sound far removed from these glacial emotions and lack of humanity, though it in itself is indeed entrenched within the splendour of the natural world. No, the music of :Werra: is full of the warmth that the imagery lacks — a distant, modest campfire, surrounded by comrades whom connect their surrounding world to the heavens through the smoke that rises in the center of this joyous moment, a moment which itself is surrounded by the outward struggle of the encroaching wilderness.
It is that point that defines the sound of :Werra: — that line between man and nature, between campfires and nocturnal wanderings, between structured song and the chatter-and-howl of the wild. The music echoes the sound and inspiration of artists whom have existed along-side of them — the heightened emotion of Forseti, the primitive spirit of Sturmpercht, the intelligence of Sagittarius, and the subtle martial themes through beautiful acoustic folk and minimal bombast of Darkwood. These are, for the most part, straight-forward, acoustic guitar and vocal-driven neofolk songs with little, if nothing, in the way of adventurous experimentation to be found, either in theme or instrumentation. That is part of the beauty of this album, though — it isn’t just a back-to-basics approach, but a call from the past, pulling music from a decade ago into the light from the shadow. The only diversion from this specific style is the final song on the collection, “Wildgänse Rauschen durch die Nacht” — originally a poem by Walter Flex — which is composed strictly through piano and voice as a folk-march. The song was first made popular through the Wandervogel movement which still exists today, and which may hint at the anonymous artists’ nature-based roots. Furthering this traditional style is the appearance of a hidden track directly after — a recording of a vintage version of “Der kleine Trompeter” which was a popular song in post-World War II East Germany, as well as known in West Germany for a rendition by Hannes Wader.
As the album title hints, these tracks come from the infancy of the Germanic neofolk movement, conceived and recorded between the years of 2001 and 2005. With that vision into an undoubtedly youthful project in those days, it is no surprise that these tracks are full of a vigor and passion that seems vacant from so many forthcoming albums today. Even then, the project was exploring a war-torn comradery from the old world that predates the more popular obsessions between both World Wars. The track “1813” places the music of :Werra: directly towards the end of Napoleon’s tyranny — a time when the sun was finally beginning to reclaim the vast lands of Europe from the shadow that Napoleon cast over it. It was an important time for Germany, as the Napoleonic occupation was quickly coming to an end in those days, climaxing with his defeat in the Battle of Leipzig in October of 1813, and shattering his grasp on the lands East of the River Rhine, effectively (but not officially) ending the War of the Sixth Coalition. With that, German men had a reason to celebrate in the coming Winter months, between 1813 and 1814, and these months serve as an inspiration to their descendents centuries later, as can only be evidenced by the beautiful collection of music that lays before you now. But this is only one of many factors influencing :Werra:, from the spirit of German tradition to a profound reverence for the order and chaos of our world, especially in their own familiar landscapes.
02) Bundeslied vor der Schlacht
03) Alte Liebe
04) Ihr habt uns nicht Gekannt!
08) Wildgänse Rauschen durch die Nacht