Porta Nigra - Kaiserschnitt
Debemur Morti Productions
Experimental Blackened Metal
9 songs (46:22)
Release year: 2015
Debemur Morti Productions
Reviewed by Goat

I missed the first album from Porta Nigra, 2012's Fin de Siècle, but if it's half as entertaining as this, then it's definitely going on the must-hear list! Hailing from Germany and featuring members of other little-known black metal acts such as Membaris, Porta Nigra are very much on the leftfield of black metal with this, a concept album about pre-First World War Prussia, full of decadence and debauchery. Sounding somewhat like Supervillain Outcast-era Dødheimsgard, albeit with the electronic elements being replaced with a martial intensity, more focus on riffs, and an off-the-wall approach to songwriting, Porta Nigra are black metal in a similar way to the Norwegians, using the sound and elements but stripping it apart and putting it back together in a completely different way. Debemur Morti refer to them as 'decadent dark metal' and indeed there's more than a little strain of gothic metal running through the likes of In Stahlgewittern, albeit twisted beyond all recognition.

The average song on here is far from blastbeats and hellfire, instead preferring to use the strangled vocals of 'O' atop a variety of diverse guitar from 'Gilles de Rais' (which his Metal-Archives page helpfully points out is a moniker, lest you thought the real Gilles de Rais had made a trip through time to play black metal) which makes for an interesting set of songs. Obviously, due to the language barrier, there's only so far that the concept will come across to us non-Teutonic folk, but Porta Nigra work hard to make the album enjoyable even so. Opener Die Mensur is probably the most Dødheimsgard-y track present, chugging riffs beneath an ominous trumpet, O's hoarse bellow and the frantic pace immediately grabbing you, before the track ends with a (sampled) Germanic folk song. Variety is everywhere; the following Femme Fatale is slower and groovier, a more martial feel with screams and chants, while the title track is even slower, a pounding, often spoken piece that mixes downright weird vocals with a catchy, simplistic riff to great effect. That it's one of the oddest tracks on the album says a lot; Porta Nigra's brand of black metal is about as odd as it gets.

The aforementioned In Stahlgewittern is one of the best tracks on the album, mixing catchy backing vocals with some terrific soloing and keeping the song moving with powerful, rhythmic riffing. Mata Hari has an almost Morbid Angel-esque swagger to its riffing, albeit one buried beneath vocals, samples, and what sounds like a xylophone, while the bass gets its moment in the sun on Hepatitis Libido, albeit feeling like a repetition of previous tracks. None are really poor, although interlude Kein schönerer Tod is less memorable than others, yet it's the final few tracks which really show Porta Nigra's skills off. Ich Zerfall is more rocking than previous tracks, moving with an energy sometimes lacking elsewhere, while finale Der Letzte Ton is as pure as black metal gets on the album – fast and atmospheric, a wall of complex noise, with clean singing, all sounding like a very strange version of modern Enslaved more than anything. It's a fitting close to the album, one that is already a favourite of mine and one I think will grow on me even more.

Killing Songs :
Femme Fatale, In Stahlgewittern, Mata Hari, Ich Zerfall, Der Letzte Ton
Goat quoted 83 / 100
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