I have a few broad rules for music that tend to be true for me, even though I don’t really like them to be. Few things annoy me more than when an uninformed reviewer begins a review with something along the lines of “I generally hate death metal, so here are 100 reasons I didn’t like this death metal record.” Every now and then you have to break out of your comfort zone and give something you typically don’t enjoy an honest listen. But sometimes, those generalizations that you hate come back to haunt you. So here I break a personal rule in an attempt to give a purely candid review; “I generally don’t enjoy when black metal bands completely eschew their typical sound for an entire album to make keyboard ambient. Here are a few reasons I don’t like this atypical keyboard ambient offering from Psychomantum.”
Gloom abounds on this hour long trudge through waist deep faux-melancholy. Standard bell samples and a digital chorus set the standard issue tone on “Introitus” for ein Requiem. While I dislike the album, the thing that is evident from the start is that sole member Sargath has an ear for arrangement. It may be syrupy and thick with forced despair, but despite the use of clichéd VST plugins for added keyboard sounds, there is a good amount of consideration given to which instruments sound right where. Accent is Sargath’s strongest suit on ein Requiem. Violins appear at just the right places, bells chime right on time to be both a main compositional instrument as well as be hidden enough to not overpower. While I don’t see myself enjoying this record even if a full on orchestra were used, it would absolutely feel less sterile.
With a title like ein Requiem (A Requiem), one would expect the tone to be somber. The unfortunate thing is how thick it is laid on. Each piece on the album blends into the next, and the previous even though there are clearly defined beginnings and ends. I’ve found myself wondering when a song was going to end and checked where I was at to find that 3 songs had gone by. I can’t tell if it’s due to the ability to transition nicely between tracks, or the fact that everything sounds relatively the same. The only time the listener is aware of where they stand in the grand scheme of the album is the woefully chosen sample of a woman weeping on “Ubergang III – Abschied III”, presumably at the loss of a loved one. After three minutes of this, I am relieved when the crying fades out, but astonished and embarrassed as the sample sweeps back in to find the forlorn lady wailing beyond control. I absolutely cannot stand this track.
Writing mostly negative reviews is not my forte. I attempt to identify at least somewhat with everything I give my opinion on, but I have given ein Requiem too many chances. While Burzum and Paysage d’Hiver are able to release albums similar that keep my attention and even find me returning, that just isn’t the case here. I simply cannot relate. Psychomantum should stick to the melodic black metal of their previous work, because this style does not suit them.
02) Kyrie in drei Teilen
03) Übergang I – dem weißen Licht entgegen
04) Sequenz in vier Teile – Dies irae
05) Übergang II – einst noch von Dauer
07) Übergang III – Abschied III (Geweih Cover)
08) Zum letzten Geleit