Sturmgeist - Meister Mephisto
Season Of Mist
Experimental/Industrial Black Metal
9 songs (46:02)
Release year: 2005
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

The easiest way to sum Sturmgeist's debut album up is to imagine that one drunken night Bathory and Solefald decided to write an Industrial Metal concept album based on German culture and mythology. Yes, it's exactly as bonkers as it sounds, but thankfully due to sole member Cornelius Jakhelnn's compositional and musical skills it's a hell of a lot of fun to listen to, acting almost like a pressure release valve from his day job in the more highbrow Solefald. Apparently it was meant as a party album, something easy to guess from the cover art in tribute to Jägermeister, yet to me there's an air of epic glory that makes the (very subtle) humour all the more funny, and is far better appreciated when listened to properly, rather than as a mere half-heard drinking soundtrack. Apart from anything, the Industrial backing and (well) programmed drums make for a deep and complex sound that's best concentrated on, especially since the songs are so well written and capable of standing up to multiple listens.

It's a fair bet that you'll be entranced from the moment that Ragnarok shoots into gear. Epic, Bathory-esque keyboards meet Industrialised Black guitars and Cornelius' enjoyably varied vocals to create the kind of thing Rammstein might write if they ever decided to go Viking Metal on us. As a whole, Sturmgeist is far more Black Metal in style than you'd think - the guitars especially are distant and atmospheric, and moments like the stormy morass of sounds that is Shock & Awe are clearly creations of the underground. It's a very easy album to like, once you've realised that Sturmgeist is all about the undercurrent of clever, subtle fun. I didn't realise the depth of humour in the lyrics until I researched them; Shock & Awe features the gem 'Shock and awe, the Devil likes it raw, do what thou wilt is the whole of their law', for example, and later lines like 'A silver bullet screams avenging my brother, if you don't want to die go home to your mother' are clearly tongue-in-cheek, especially delivered by Cornelius in his mock-solemn tones. His Solefald bandmate Lazare contributes vocals to several tracks here, and is equally amusing.

You won't need to be familiar with Solefald to enjoy this, however. Army Of Odin (Hafrsfjord) begins with catchy modern chugging before retreating to Black Metal territory, and the technoviking mixture of sounds, futuristic and traditional, is highly effective, a distorted choir driving the melody with programmed drums beating bluntly over grandiose orchestration. It's at once experimental and catchy, and is definitely an album highlight, especially when the music fades into the background, and a hammy Viking voice spits something out in a spoken section. Impressive most of all is how many highlights there are - Master Hunter has an enjoyable restrained Thrashiness, and the aforementioned 'Jägermeister' chorus has a quite air of melancholy which extends throughout the track, another odd choice but an enjoyable one. Many will find it hard to believe that Till Lindemann didn't guest on the eight-minute singalong that is Rattenfänger - the breakdown into techno territory partway through is perfectly judged - and Grimmer Than Ugly is an enjoyable pounder with wonderfully epic overtones.

Not all tracks are killer, but it's a very close content - the slow Erlkönig feels a little out of place. When that's the worst thing you can say, however, there's clearly a whole lot of positive, and the closing two parts of Walpurgisnacht especially, with lyrics based on the J.W. von Goethe poem (as are several other tracks) ups the speed and Black Metal intensity most satisfactorily. Meister Mephisto isn't an earthshaking or groundbreaking record, but it is a fun album that Solefaldniks and Industrial Metal fans will get a great deal of enjoyment from.

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Killing Songs :
Ragnarok, Shock & Awe, Army Of Odin (Hafrsfjord), Rattenfänger, Grimmer Than Ugly, Walpurgisnacht (both parts)
Goat quoted 84 / 100
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