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Albatwitch – Only Dead Birds Sing over the Graves of Fallen Kings

Albatwitch - Only Dead Birds Sing over the Graves of Fallen Kings

Albatwitch is yet another band containing the work of timeMOTHeye, and for simplicity sake has been reviewed alongside Moth Masque for what will soon be very obvious reasons (see the review here). You see, one of my main complaints about Moth Masque was that they became very repetitive after various listens, with many songs being so alike that the difference was hardly discernible. Albatwitch somewhat continues this, with many songs and parts of songs being the same banjo picking clean vocal style that timeMOTHeye is also known for. These songs and sections of songs would fit exactly into Moth Masque, with no real difference that I could perceive, and for that reason I write this review with all my thoughts about Moth Masque fresh in mind. As strange as it may sound, about half of Albatwitch is essentially Moth Masque, on quite a literal level.

Things begin with a song partially in German, we can call this a M.M. song, short for Moth Masque. The next song, made up largely of blistering noise, is absolutely ferocious, violent in a rip-your-face-off style. Next, a distorted heavy riff and screaming vocals creates a Sludge-Crust manifesto, reflected in various political lyrics. It is soon clear that Albatwitch is a multi-faced monster, part dreadlocked and covered in patches, part overalls and straw hat, and part blood-fueled yet clean-cut Noise guy. If this sounds like a bit much, it is. As with M.M., part of me loves this, and another part of me is simply frustrated. I have had my share of M.M. at this point, and as I mentioned in that review I have become very familiar with timeMotheye’s distinct style. Many of these songs would have easily fit into M.M., while other sections are just intense.

I am certainly a fan of eccentric and eclectic music, and every aspect contained in this album is something I enjoy. I am simply not sure if I enjoy all those aspects on one album. Some of this is part noise, other parts remind me of dim clubs with a dirge guitar sound evoking a stern disgust. If M.M. were to be completely removed from this, this album would be blowing my mind right now, and parts of it certainly do. When it becomes straight-forward, the sound is massive, with vocals that the likes of Damad or Khanate would envy. The riffs and overall sound is simply intense, the kind of thing I absolutely adore. If it were just the Noise elements, all would fit fine, but when the banjo is thrown in and Albatwitch becomes Folk again, it is just too much. Songs like “A.M.P.I.C.” are exactly what I want to hear more of in my life.

Brian Magar (left), Timothy Renner (right

Brian Magar (left), Timothy Renner (right)

Much like the third disc from M.M.’s box set, Communion, if it was just the elements that are doom-inspired crust punk and chaotic noise, I would have a new favorite album. Even if it was a mix of the former with the folky banjo playing, it could be something interesting. As it turns out, Albatwitch tries to contain so many different things, I end up skipping tracks to feel like I am listening to one album, and not three separate completely unrelated bands.

TimeMOTHeye is certainly quite the talent. An album that contains harmonium, harp, dulcimer, banjola, and lobow certainly shows the musical aptitude of both he and Brian Magar. Components of this album, on their own, are quite strong, but together they falter for they simply are too divergent in atmosphere and content. I want to like this album more than I do, and parts of it are beyond memorable. Give me “Frack-ture” and a few other songs, take away the distinctly M.M. sound, and this is a top notch album. It is what it is though, and as strong as parts of it are, as a whole I find it obnoxiously over-the-top. Many of the spoken clips are quite interesting, revealing an eco-political edge I can certainly stand by. Maybe I just need to take some space from M.M. and return to this later; perhaps refreshed I would find it easier to absorb so many various components. As for now though, this is an album worth checking out if you are willing to skip over whole sections. In sections, including some songs with the M.M. sound, this is a great album, absolutely daring to try something new. As a whole, it is a mess, with too many ideas packed into one disc. It is quite the paradox, and I will surely be playing this one again, while certainly being quick to skip to the next track.

Track List:

01) Die Gedanken Sind Frei
02) Break Apart
03) Beneath the Flood
04) Floodwaters
05) Only Dead Birds Sings over the Graves of Fallen Kings
06) Dead Kings
07) A.M.P.I.C.
08) Nomads
09) The Gods and the Apes
10) Liar’s Noose
11) The Hanged Man
12) Rise!
13) Ascending Fire
14) Hammer and Nail
15) Goat
16) Frack-ture
17) Black Waters Rise

Rating: 3.5/5
Written by: Patrick Bertlein
Label: Hand/eye (US) / Lost Grave #13.04 / CD-R
Folk / Drone / Black Metal / Punk / Experimental