Meister Leonhardt - Meister Leonhardt
Purity Through Fire
Black Metal
6 songs (26'51")
Release year: 2021
Reviewed by Alex

The members of Russian newcomer Meister Leonhardt wish to remain anonymous, but I actually am familiar with the vocalist/lyricist/synth player Vaarwel from his solo project Frozen Ocean of which I have reviewed a pair of albums for this site. Frozen Ocean being a very atmospheric black metal (at least from my experience, since the project is quite prolific), I was surprised to see Vaarwel (Mikhail Saveliev) participate in something quite as raw as Meister Leonhardt. The name of the band, and the name of their self-titled debut, comes from the eponymous short novel by Gustav Meyrink, a well-known German/Austrian writer in the early 20th century, who was a master of mysticism. I have read his most famous novel The Golem, once it was allowed to be published as the Soviet Union fell apart 30 years ago, but I have never even heard about Meister Leonhardt. Judging by how The Golem is like, however, I am fairly certain the story must be grim, solemn and oozing with dark spirituality. The music of the EP follows the path and presents very much the same qualities.

Ominous frozen synth entry The Coldest Fire is as close as Meister Leonhardt will come to Frozen Ocean, and it sets up the story to unfold. The following The Crown of Consenescence (consenescence meaning a decay from old age, for all you spelling bee aficionados) plunges quickly into tremolo possessed blackened thrash full of distortion and static. The 2nd half of The Crown of Consenescence is slower and uglier, but prior to that Meister Leonhardt delivers a profound triumphant melodic chord progression worth of flipping the horns up and replaying over and over. Of Things Never Finished takes intensity off the drums and shifts to much more viscous and swampy affair, and on the whole the EP tends to get slower and fouler as it unfolds. Nystagmus grinds away methodically, steadily hammering home its points, while Thirst and Spiritual Infirmity is seething, torturous and dragging, coming up with more melodic inflection midway. The EP sets out to play in the realm of older traditional black metal, and delivers on the promise with authentic rawness. Meister Leonhardt brought the memories of Azaghal for me, and maybe thrashier Finnish bands on the faster, more melodic The Crown of Consenescence. At the same time I hear some shades of black’n’roll here, similar to Khold and some of Vreid tunes, and it is that part, with a fair amount of repetition in the riffs, that notched the EP slightly lower for me in terms of score. Vaarwel’s vocals are pure spite; he is a hissing snake with a periodic higher pitch as if fire was applied to the vocal chords.

Primitive in terms of approach and some riffing should not be confused with production heft in the case of Meister Leonhardt. The EP’s sound quality, while obviously raw, is entirely legible, which makes the release significantly more potent. I just wish there were more melodic developments to follow and corridors to explore. Nevertheless, this is definitely a strong debut and I am now intrigued to track down that story to see what the inspiration was behind the band’s creation.

Killing Songs :
The Crown of Consenescence, Thirst and Spiritual Infirmity
Alex quoted 76 / 100
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