Journalist Name: Bryan Babylon
Artist: Various Artists
Title: Mit Fester Hand: Allerseelenlieder
Cat. # Ahnstern 43
Genre: Neofolk/Alpine Folk/Folk Metal/Martial Industrial/Military Pop
01 Ernte– Santa Sangre (Jodorowski Mix)
02 Tyr-Kreis– Ernting
03 Haberfeld – Olle Lust willEwigkeit
04 Die Weisse Rose– Flamme
05 Fanes– Sonne Golthi-Ade
06 Sagittarius– Musa
07 Scivias– Idun
08 Fräkmündt– Firnföuskamerad
09 Hrefnesholt– Herbstlied
10 Ô Paradis– Marqués de Púbol
11 Blood Axis & Sangre Cavallum– Sonne Golthi-Ade
12 Sturmpercht– Sturmlied
13 Larrnakh– Knistern
14 Àrnica– Foc de Salamandra
15 Klammheim– Allerseelen
16 Der Arbeiter– Flama
17 Der Feuerkreiner– Feuersalamander
18 Cawatana– Alle Lust will Ewigkeit
19 Svarrogh– Heiliges Blut
20 Allerseelen– Mit Fester Hand
Allerseelen has been pioneering, defining and expanding the limits of experimental genres ranging from Neofolk and Ritual Industrial to Dark Ambient and military pop since the late Eighties, now twenty comrades from the realms of pagan folk music have paid tribute to Gerhard Hallstatt’s longstanding influence with the new compilation Mit Fester Hand: Allerseelenlieder, yet another high quality release added to Ahnstern’s incomparable roster . Interpretations of some of Allerseelen’s most moving work are presented by established masters such as Blood Axis with Sangre Cavallum and Svarrogh, as well as fairly new faces to the scene like Àrnica and Fräkmündt. Several times two groups cover the same song showing the flexibility of the originals, while other groups offer faithful renderings testifying to the timeless quality of the source material, and a few bands offer wildly different readings taking familiar music into new and unexpected territories just as the Allerseelen has taken our ears over the years.
The disc opens up with a heartbeat that becomes Ernte’s Santa Sangre (Jodorowsky Mix) with heavy drums, crawling black horns, and cries of ‘Santa Sangre’ and ‘Hieliges Blut’ starting things out with a blood dedication, whether this is to our mother superior who lost her arms fighting evil is not for me to say. Svarrogh end the tributes in a similar fashion with machine gun drumming, metallic guitar and squirling electronic atmospherics with Heiliges Blut. Tyr-Kreis, (a side project of Halgadom) come in with marching snares, a contorted bassline, electric guitar and atomic blasts of harsh noise fairly similar to the original with the addition of a deeper sound spectrum and a shorter playtime somewhat losing the lofi hypnotic quality of the original. Haberfeld enter next with Olle Lust will Ewigkeit with a warm churning bass, layers of brave male vocals, minimal guitar, and auxiliary percussion giving a more stripped down treatment of Alle Lust will Ewigkeit than Cawatana who add a strong insistent piano in their version treating the song to the minimal folk style they have developed over the past decade. Both bands give this song a much more organic feel than the original which has a rather cold and harsh feeling, taking a hymn of the electronic dissolution back into the hearts of the people who will live through it and persevere. Among my favorite tracks on the album is Sagittarius’ Musa with the wild flute lines, halcyon layers of brass and shadow whisper vocals ruminating over sparkling cascades of piano this song has a delirious and otherworldly spirit matching closely so ethereal and gossamer a subject.
Hrefnesholt begin their stellar translation of Herbstlied with an aleatory percussion ensemble that is gradually put into order by the command of an encroaching bass and drilled into precision by an electric guitar. Distorted bristles of violin and gruff vocal husks fall from above, vying for life in the dropping darkness conveying the beautiful voice of transition. O Paradis work in a similar vein, mining the Marques de Pubol for its surreal shimmers with only downtempo strings, fluid bass and half lidded hush-me-or-lie vocals as tools bringing up stones more rare than in the original collaboration between Allerseelen and O Paradis. This sultry ice castle serenade is one of the high moments of the compilation.
Sonne Golthi-Ade is covered by Italian upstarts Fanes as well as the powerhouse team of Blood Axis with Sangre Cavallum. It is difficult to put a value judgment on a dichotomy with poles so far apart in terms of experience and prestige, so try I will not. Fanes update the original with a driving skeleton of guitar built on a backbone of bass modulated into the thorax with a maybe three whole steps higher key and faster tempo similar to Haberfeld’s treatment of Olle Lust will Ewigkeit. Blood Axis with Sangre Cavallum turn this song into a lusty ceremonial dance of community. Fanes’ version has the practiced intimacy of bedroom training while Blood Axis & Sangre Cavallum use their characteristic large ensembles, incredible instrumentation and precision performance styles to take this song out into daylight and share it with the kind.
Scivias thaw the slow cold pulse and freezing winds of Allerseelen’s Idun, warming it up with a large ensemble adding violin and cello, blurred electronics, winds and layers of chanting, giving this song a neomedieval style whereas the original is very industrial and repetitive. Die Weisse Rose give Flamme a similar presentation with a majestic organ, rousing martial drums, swelling horns and heroic vocals lending the song a massive glorious spirit. Der Arbeiter rein the same material in an entirely different direction with an inspired tango corralling frolicsome castanets, burning flamenco guitar work, velvet strings and an exceptional bass into a suave and delicate reinterpretation of a neofolk classic with their Flama. Analogous by wildly different interpretation is Klammheim’s adaptation of Allerseelen, using a full madrigal choir, austere strummed guitar and ruminate winds, the sinister effect of the original is lost to a maestoso sacred atmosphere.
The field drumming, quiet intense vocals, and accordion in low spirits mix with swirling dirty electricity and menacing guitars in Sturmpercht’s reading of Sturmlied taking this song out to sea with the dark sound I have come to know this band for. Two groups present two unrestrained covers of Feuersalamander, Arnica lead into their translation (Foc de Salamandra) with treble accordion and the sound of coughing giving way to frenzied drums, ominous chanting vocals and persistent guitars illustrating the fire dragon consciousness, whereas Der Feuerkreiner, use a plummeting bass, disciplined horns, and dense percussion to build a solid militant atmosphere with epic female vocals transforming through different moods and delivery styles to alter this track through the fire of reinterpretation. The vast difference between these two versions of the same song show the curiously aquatic nature of the fire animal salamander.
Larrnakh open their take on Knistern with a whispered woman’s voice accompanied by a solo violin crossing an intrepid ice field of ambience to find refuge at the fireside of a heartfelt ensemble of strummed guitar intertwined with piano and a warm man heartily singing comfort and offering safety. The disc ends with Allerseelen performing the compilation’s namesake with the lush outer space militaria of Mit Fester Hand to culminate an excellent tribute album long due for such a innovative longtimer of the genre. Highly recommended for the superb performances and all star collection of excellent musicians, this disc disappoints not at all, even the lowest moments of the album ring high with vision and clarity!