Totengeflüster is the kind of Black Metal that has largely been forgotten over the past few years. Neither relying on over the top Occult imagery, although it still certainly exists, nor focused on being completely raw, it is hard to place them in today’s BM world. They above all are a Symphonic Black Metal band, the kind that in my early years of enjoying Cradle of Filth and Hecate Enthroned I would have gone mad over. Being that Cradle and Dimmu Borgir have reached such heights in popularity, much of the BM world has completely turned their back on this style. It is refreshing to see a band who has done otherwise, and while I certainly can not appreciate this on the same level as when I was in my teens, it is still easy to recognize the talent within this album. Vom Seelensterben, the debut album, will surely not start a revolution of bands plugging their keyboards back in, but it is a decent ode to some great music of the past.
It is without a doubt that this is BM, the nearly indecipherable logo is evidence enough of this. This contains many elements that bands of this style have forgotten for many years, including whispered vocals and interludes of pianos while the screeching is sustained. I am immediately reminded of CoF early work, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. If this came out around the same time as Born of the Flickering by Old Man’s Child, and Enthroned Darkness Triumphant from Dimmu Borgir, this bands history would have been quite different. Instead, they are coming out today, which in a sense is going completely against the grain. Putting out an album that sounds like it was supposed to come out a decade ago is quite brave in my opinion, much more so than say doing a straightforward album that childishly tries to be more Occult than the next album.
Do not mistake this for being soft, for while the keys certainly dominate, the music is at times quite ferocious. It intersperses this with operatic moments, all digital of course, utilizing the space to create atmosphere before the vocals return. One of the biggest complaints is the guitars are mixed way too low, easily being overpowered by both the vocals and keys. This partially makes sense though, as these are the key elements within a band of this style. At times, it is just the synth, doing some creepy rhythm, and the tortured feline screams so stereotypical of this style. All in all, it is quite well done though.
The drums completely duplicate the vocal patterns, adding power to each ferocious scream. They are a dull thud, hardly discernible, as this album, unlike others of the genre, chooses a production that is a bit raw. I am fairly positive the drums are actually programmed, which to some can lessen the offering, to others will make it just that much more underground. The raw production offers a decent balance, making it feel a bit more underground and organic. What it really comes down to is if the listener enjoys a lot of neo-classical synths in their BM or not. The booklet itself is a very well done and produced professionally, showing a very artistic side which is surprising for an independently released album. I am certainly reminded of Dimmu Borgir regarding some of the pictures, amongst a few others that came out around the turn of the century and slightly before.
These frenzied manic vocals will satisfy many, being in many ways what some of us secretly wish Dani Filth stuck with. My throat is sore just from listening to it. It is certainly a bit over the top, as this music tends to be, and it should be. This is a dramatic representation of death and darkness, mysterious supernatural hauntings and the howls of ghosts. The name itself means “whispers of the dead”, and it is easily to imagine these guys trancing out on an Ouija board. Being that these folks are from Germany, it should come as no surprise. I say that as a German, kind of just how we are, and while I would certainly not hunt down an album of this style today, it is quite interesting to hear it being done in the present day. As symphonic as it is, it is also intense, switching pace between an extreme fury where the vocals are on full throttle, to a mid-paced frightful apparitional wandering, and returning once again to either full out synth or the full on Wodinic fury.
Do not confuse this for some weak attempt at the style, in terms of speed and ferocity this far surpasses many in the genre. The synths and melody is a nice balance, and all in all this is about as traditional as it gets. Regardless of opinions, BM started off with the same kind of atmosphere, heavily focused on atmosphere while being frightening as well, a dark beauty that has been scoffed at by many who do not recognize that this aesthetic requires a recognition that the horrors and tragedies of existence are what makes life what it is, and BM has always been the soundtrack for the shadows. Having an intro and outro that are both instrumental and orchestral is something that has been missing for a long time. Yes, Dimmu and Cradle have over extended all this, but perhaps some will remember what this style use to be like, before the trends and attention it has recently received. As someone who has grown up listening to very similar bands as this, it is a relief to hear it once again. Nostalgic, for sure, and time shall tell if that is enough for repeated listens. In the mean time, my eighteen-year-old Emperor loving self has a big, dark smile on my ugly mug.
01) Die Prophezeiung
02) Ein Traumgespinst
03) Ein Monolog im Mondschein
04) gefrorene Tränen
05) Vom Seelensterben
06) Der Pakt
07) Blutsegen – Die strömende Erkenntnis
08) Ein neuer Pfad
09) Im Tau der toten Morgensonne
10) Ein Monolog im Mondschein (Orchestral Version) *
* Bonustrack on Digipack Version
10) Der Pakt (Alternative Remix Version) *
* Bonustrack on Re Release – Jewelcase in Sleeve Version