Release date: 30 August 2019
Format reviewed: Digital Promo
“Here, hope dies silently.”
Darkness and depression. These are two of the themes that black metal, in my opinion, can transport better than any other genre. The fast, misanthropic riffing mixed with thunderous blast beats and ice-cold screams just has that special feeling to it, like no other genre. But like much of extreme metal, it can be hard to get into and takes time. Before getting into this dark metal subgenre, my craving for heaviness was often quenched in the slow, yet intense genres of doom and sludge and I still hold these two in very high regard. When I then recently browsed Bandcamp and found a german band that defined themselves as “black sludge”, my interest was sparked to say the least!
ZEIT (german for “time”) formed in 2010 and since 2013 have put out 4 EPs, a live album as well as their debut full-length in 2017 titled “Konvergenz” (convergence), all self-released. Now it is 2019 and the trio made up of Win on drums, Fur on guitars & vocals and Flakmann on bass return with their sophomore album “Drangsal” (tribulation/distress).
In this review, I’ll tell you why this band is definitely worth checking out and give you my interpretation of the album’s themes!
The album is initiated by “Schweigen” (silence), that immediately envelopes you, the listener, with a heavy, sludgy guitar riff and the raspy screams of Fur, who later proclaims the breaking of hope and the death of light. From this point onwards, the riffing gets increasingly blackened, the drums speed up and all out misanthropy soon ensues. Fur then screams “for eternity” with increasing intensity before a heavy, yet atmospheric riff returns the doomy pace of the tracks first half to close the record’s opener.
“Stirn” (forehead) then opens with a melodic black metal riff, that later progresses with some mixed in sludgy guitar chugs. The vocals on this track get even more intense, taking on a throaty and gurgling tone that sounds almost animalistic. The band then combines black metal and sludge in a slow, yet very dark and misanthropic riff, after which a pure black metal onslaught launches the track into even greater heights! The song ends on a sludge riff. It was “Stirn”, where I first started theorizing what the album is about, something that I’ll particularize later.
Heavy black riffs and gurgling, feral screams return on “Babylon”, which is mainly a black metal track, but still has a very heavy and sludge-infused edge to it. The closing riff of the track is again very depressive and dark. As the title suggests, the track lyrically touches upon the fall of Babylon and on multiple occasions mentions the “whore” (of Babylon), a figure from the Book of Revelation in the bible often associated with the Antichrist and apocalyptic imagery, this will again later tie in with my interpretation of the album’s theme.
My personal favorite track, “Menschmaschine” (human-machine) comes next, with an absolute black metal barrage, featuring an extremely melancholic guitar riff, in its first half! The track then progresses with lots of change, a more doom-infused riff is followed up by an atmospheric interlude which is then taken over by a sludgy, kind of punky sounding passage. In the end, the black metal returns with blast beats and the opening riff. The lyrics are quite interesting throughout, Fur here screams about “cosmic pessimists, hollow human-machines”.
“Granne” (awn) starts with a thrash-like riff and although the black metal sound soon returns, it keeps a thrashy edge across its runtime. The track ends on a climactic punch of misanthropy though, as a great riff provides background to Fur screaming “we die too slow, I feel sick”. “357” features an almost Sabbath-esque riff, very doomy & distorted and the vocals are at their most raspy and punky sounding here, a great way to close the record!
Without going into depth about the lyrics, the album already is very good, but once I looked into them more is when the album really clicked with me. After closer listening, it was pretty clear to me that this album is actually about “urban-depression”, and what I mean by that I’m now going to elaborate further based on the lyrics.
While the first track is more are on overall bleak outlook on life after that is were the concept of the misery of the city life really become clear. “Stirn” talks about the bleakness of urban life, where one “only sees grey everywhere” and all you can smell is dust. In “Babylon” the urban-depression and frustration are shown through an apocalyptic vision, indicating that society on its current path is inherently doomed. It also stated here that “man is an animal to man”, pointing at the brute way humans coexist. In “Menschmaschine”, the title giving hollow human-machine implies the social defunctness of the modern human, suggesting we are mere machines unable the really function the way we were originally supposed to. What this does to humans is then described in “Granne”, as “disappointment takes form, despair turns into violence”. Continuously asphalt and concrete get mentioned, further hinting at the bleak urban construct. Culminating, “357” exaggerates this philosophy into existence were humans are “mere numbers”, a dystopia where humans are completely de-individualized and were amidst “dying streets” hope dies a silent death at last.
ZEIT‘s new album really surprised me. It took me multiple listens to really get into it properly, but in the end, it was all worth it. In their sophomore album, the band conveys a bleak vision of human life, as the album title states, the “Drangsal” of existence. 8.5/10 the trve Medvson
If you’re also interested in hearing some info from ZEIT directly, keep your eyes open. Next week we will have an interview…
8.5/10 To Greatness and Glory!
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