REVIEW: TOTENGEFLÜSTER – “Im Nebel der Vergänglichkeit”
Note: This review needs to begin with a preface – all of the information that was found surrounding Totengeflüster is in German, and as such was run through Google Translate. Effort has been taken to ensure all information is correct and up to date; however, due to the nature of automated translations, there may be some minor mistakes.
‘Im Nebel der Vergänglichkeit’ (In the Mist of Transience) is the second release by German symphonic black metal band Totengeflüster, and the moment the album begins, they make their intentions clear. Dark, atmospheric and tense orchestration builds up throughout “Ein Fernes Irrlicht” before blending seamlessly into “Ein Spiegel der nur Lügen Speit”. Guitars and drums lead the way for a wall of sound which is described by founding member Totleben as “combining the coldness and anger of Black Metal with elements of classical music to create an aggressive and cinematic feel.”
‘Im Nebel der Vergänglichkeit’ has a pattern of punctuating every few songs with an orchestral interlude (“Ein Fernes Irrlicht, Fahle Mahre” and “Styx”) which serves not only to reinforce the dark and cinematic atmosphere of the album, but also helps prevent the listener from become fatigued too quickly and losing interest in the album as a whole.
“Verfall und Siechtum” showcases black metal tremolo picking with high-pitched screeching vocals and ferocious drums. However, the band stands out with their approach to atmosphere, choosing to counterpoint the intense but straightforward nature of the music with choirs, strings and pianos to add intricacy and depth to an already rich and vibrant sound. Using the orchestration to create such movement in energy was a smart idea as black metal can by nature be somewhat one dimensional – it’s either blasting your face off or being quiet and creepy. Totengeflüster are able to ramp the music up into emotive crescendos or diminish the soundscape until nothing remains but the core band hammering home a crushing riff.
This technique is displayed incredibly well in the intro for “Von Purpum Bluhender Dammerung” and the self-titled track “Totengeflüster” with the orchestration building tension before the band comes in and controlling the dynamic once riffs begin to flow. For example, strummed chords (which as standalone pieces are relatively static) are now overlaid by stabbing choirs and haunting piano melodies, creating an ebb and flow of drama which would simply not exist should the band have chosen a somewhat more conservative approach to black metal.
Vocal duties are handled by Narbengrund who displays quite a solid range of versatility, from the sickening high-pitched rasps of “Iche Lebe” that are heard accompanying a church organ to the low-pitched bellows which are performed as the track strips back into a more raw feel. Narbengrund certainly keeps things interesting and displays a range not often seen in black metal.
Unfortunately, the lyrics are entirely in German with no printed copies available; as such, the content and themes explored throughout ‘Im Nebel der Vergänglichkeit’ will have to remain a mystery for now. Track names translate to titles such as “The Moon Pale Children” (“Des Mondes bleiche Kinder”) and “In Mists of Dead Dreams” (“In Nebeln toter Träume”), so it’s safe to assume that the content largely deals with bleak, dark and fantasy based ideology.
The low-down? ‘Im Nebel der Vergänglichkeit’ is symphonic black metal executed with proficiency and style. Bleak, dark soundscapes and ruthless black metal collide with great results.