Verdunkeln - Einblick in Den Qualenfall
Van Records
Psychedelic Black Metal
6 songs (62'59")
Release year: 2007
Van Records
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

To all of you who are still bent over backwards reveling over the latest Deathspell Omega – may I recommend you another outstanding piece of the unusual black metal, the work coming from the unlikeliest of sources, from the duo known as Gnarl and Ratatyske, also the members of German lo-fi hateful black metal outfit Graupel? Verdunkeln is no Graupel, however, and instead of stirring up raw emotions it is guaranteed to mess with your head. Einblick in den Qualenfall is that sort of record. It will creep at you seemingly out of nowhere, slowly invade your senses, overwhelm and demand to be played over and over. The attempt to explain will certainly be a feeble one, but would you believe me if I don’t try?

Einblick in den Qualenfall, borrowing from its title, is an insightful peek into the psychedelic torment. The anguish of the album is portrayed via two distinctly different approaches. The first one is seemingly reserved, yet still boiling underneath the surface, unfolding at a leisurely pace, orchestral, mesmerizing, driving you mad with its repetitive pulsating melodies, steeped in equal part Skepticism and mid-era Burzum. The second is decidedly hurried, rawking and rolling, dirty, shifting between Horna soot and 70s German TV rock, but no less repetitive and psychotic.

The opener In die Irre provides a glimpse of both expressions. In its ambient blackened sections it is still grim, but this is a different kind of grim, without lunging at your throat, without the corpsepaint, incessant blastbeat or scowl. Instead, the face bears a withdrawn smirk, arms are firmly crossed on the chest, voices range from the up-at-the-ceiling clean cathedral choirs to echoing frazzled tortured black metal cries, muffled and shouted as if from a distance. Double bass welcomes a rawking section culminating with a drilling lead.

The album’s masterpieces are epic length Im Zwiespalt and Der Herrscher deserving all of their 15 and 17 min, respectively. In these compositions Verdunkeln employs two levels of guitars. In the background they have a 2-3 riff monotonous fuzzy tremolo creating a dense texture. Over the top a twangy semi-clean washed out melody flows constantly evoking a strange underwater dungeon effect. Verdunkeln clean guitar strings feel like shapeless limp noodles, on the first take they appear to be out of tune, yet they are totally hypnotic. Bass drum is basically the only rhythmic structure heard, but it is huge, drenched in booming reverb. Im Zwiespalt takes its time to develop, but every moment is valuable, the band never losing the overall sight of the song. Mid-way there is an explosion, a guitar lead worthy of a howling lonely wolf. The descent begins immediately after, sliding from the top of the mountain to the eventual heart wrenching funeral chords. Der Herrscher allows for more uneven speed variations and even for some playful beat. Eventually bobbing mechanical rhythm takes over to control your senses. It is then when you realize why the song took as long as it did.

On the opposite, Der Quell and Die Saat der Klinge are stupefying unabashed jams, single riff and single drumbeat style propelled, covered with muck and dirt. The garish clean vocals, pure demented rock’n’roll, are also coming as if away from the mic. In comparison, the closer Auf freiem Felde is a somber melody, perhaps a clean male choir ode to the monstrous creature on the album inside cover.

Hinting at many styles, but eventually pulling off a unique stance, Verdunkeln is a very interesting release, especially for those who appreciate their black metal being weird.

Killing Songs :
In die Irre, Im Zwiespalt, Der Herrscher
Alex quoted 90 / 100
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