Season of Mist, 2013
Genre: Black Metal
2. The Refined Nation
3. Reich an Jugend
4. Sick Hell
5. Blasphemer (Sodom Cover)
6. Monotonus 2013
8. Stalin Note
9. KDF 511
10. Endstille (Abschied)
I'm going to be honest, after "Infektion 1813" I wasn't planning on purchasing this album. It was only in a discussion with my friend Alex where he insisted the album was pretty good that I finally decided to give the album a try. Turns out he was correct. "Kapitulation 2013" is a pretty solid album from Endstille. I was initially worried about this because they've added a second guitarist in the mix and its the guitarist from Kilt, whom I don't like that much. So, adding in a musician from a band I'm not interested in was sort of a reason for me to hold off. However, after Alex's prompting I'm really glad I delved into this release.
"Kapitulation 2013" returns to really harnessing the Endstille experience. I've seen some reviewers complaining of "stagnation", but this is what Endstille's sound is really all about. Without half of this atmosphere the band would not be who they are. "Infektion 1813" didn't have the same compelling atmosphere to get lost in, which is why the album didn't work for me. Long time Endstille fans who are rooted in their early discography are likely to enjoy this over the prior album. Even more to the point Zingultus has really meshed with the band much better this time around. The vocal performance still involves some spoken word sections, but they're layered into the music so much more appropriately that it doesn't take away from my listening experience. He also does a decent job bringing back some of those intense wails that Iblis could pull off, just listen to some of the screams he lays down in "Reich an Jugend".
One of the other aspects of this album that stand out is the album art. They did a pretty good job on this booklet. The typesetting for the lyrics is a little weird... but the art concept is spectacular. It looks like a lot of propaganda art, which is quite a different approach to their usual use of old photos from World War II. Don't worry, there are still pages with the old photos, but it is amidst some propaganda art, which gives the art direction a very different feel.
If I had one complaint it is the location of the Sodom cover song. It is right in the middle of the album and really throws off the immersion I previously had. It is incredibly cool that they got Grave Violator to join them on guitars, but I feel like they should have stuck with the tried and true method of including the cover at the end of the album. The way this album is designed feels like it is meant to be experienced all at once really. Other than that, this was a return to Endstille's usual solid performance, which I tend to expect. Is it better than the likes of "Navigator" and "Frühlingserwachen", maybe not, but it is a really great album all around for the modern era. Endstille are certainly keeping that black flame burning and I feel their future is more promising after hearing this release. Now if they would only ever tour America...
Season of Mist, 2011
Genre: Black Metal
3. Bloody H (The Hurt-Gene)
4. The Deepest Place on Earth
5. When Kathaaria Falls
7. World Aflame
9. Endstille (Völkerschlächter)
"Infektion 1813" marks the first full-length since Iblis departure from the project. After a terrifyingly horrible performance on the split with Kilt, I was truly worried about buying this. But buy this I did... and I even got the limited edition digipak version. You can walay your fears, because this is still a Black Metal album through and through thankfully. The band is clearly trying to work out the changes in their sound and some of them work and some of them don't. However, first I'll point out that with the demise of Regain Records Endstille had been left searching for a new label and seem to have been swiftly picked up by Season of Mist, which is a fairly major label in the extreme metal scene.
I think the last time I listened to this is around when it came out and back then I thought it was only an okay release. Upon re-listening to the album I think I still feel that way. It certainly isn't Endstille's strongest release, and this isn't just because Iblis isn't behind the microphone. For the most part the musical contingent of the band is still quite strong, but I feel like they are trying to branch out in ways that sound weird. The song "Anomie", one of the strongest on the album, has parts that don't flow that well on the release. Other songs have this problem too, like "The Deepest Place on Earth", which seems to try to keep the "Monotonus" sequence going without calling it that. The bass guitar is really standout on this release, which definitely added an interesting dimension at times. Ultimately the music was up and down for me. "Satanarchie" has some incredible rhythms and strength, but at other times some songs sort of peter out, like "Wrecked", and just aren't that strong to me. The choice sample in "Wrecked" of what sounds like whipping women in an S/M fashion just seems silly in the context of Endstille.
So how did Zingultus measure up on this release? I think he did okay. Let me preface this by pointing out hat Zingultus has already had a distinguished career as a vocalist. He's clearly very talented and actually tries to arrange things in a far more dynamic and interesting fashion than ever before for Endstille. Unfortunately, this didn't really work in the context of Endstille. It's sort of like, rather than build into a more dynamic vocal performance with a lot of variation, they just switched to it overnight. There are a lot of tracks with spoken word sections, more of a yelling part than a Black Metal rasp, and clean vocals show up in "Bloody H". It's almost too much at once for us to process. I feel like they would have been better off trying to ease us into a transition like this, because the end result is that Endstille just didn't have as much bite as they did before. At times, I think the writing did suffer in order to accommodate this more varied vocal presentation and fitting in clean vocals with spoken word sections forced them to write in a way that attempted to make this work. That's how all of this felt in the end, accommodation, rather than a natural progression for the musicians. I do applaud them for trying out new things and writing in a manner to fit Zingultus' full vocal skill to the test, but honestly the only track that really worked with the spoken word was the epic closer of "Endstille", which started to feel a little like Forteresse at times.
In the end, I thought this album was mediocre overall. I think Endstille has written more compelling material in the past and I think the band is trying to experiment with different things to see what they can get to work in the future. I think a lot of ideas were presented on this release... almost too many for the long time fans to process at once. I think most long running bands run into this at some point and while many people may enjoy this... it just doesn't feel like it has the spirit of Endstille in it like the other albums really do, if that makes any sense.
Genre: Black Metal
1. Unburied in the Sun
2. Conquest is Atheism (Live)
3. Call of Chaos
4. The Demon Never Dies
Side Kilt: ...probably never getting reviewed on this site....
Here's a curious problem in blogger... this thing refuses to upload the image with the correct orientation. I looked at the parent file and that is not the problem. If anyone has an idea... leave a comment.
Here's the first recordings without Iblis on vocals. I was interested to hear who they would get to replace such an incredible vocalist and it turns out they found the replacement in the band Graupel, whom they've done a split with in the past. Zingultus is certainly no stranger to Black Metal, as he was also involved in the incredible Nagelfar project before moving on to Graupel. I've enjoyed a lot of his work in the past... but we'll see how he fits in with this project. This split has been released in multiple versions all limited to 500 copies. I own the 12" EP picture disc with CD version as well.
We are presented with one new song and a live recording with the new vocalist. The new song "Unburied in the Sun" is terrible. It features Zingultus only partially, but also has the vocalist from Kilt giving up some guest vocals. His blend of Thrash/Metalcore styled vocals just sounds wrong with Endstille. The guitar work is so foreign from what we would expect from an Endstille piece that it just comes off as contrived. Luckily its over after about a minute and a half. This really doesn't give me high hopes for the projects future if they ever intend to go in this direction. "Conquest is Atheism" gives a little more hope to Zingultus who is the main performer on this live track. He does an alright job in the live setting... but it does feel like something is missing in the vocal department. I really hope Endstille can get their act together for the next full-length, because I truly hope they do not go in the direction of "Unburied in the Sun". It leaves me wondering if Iblis leaving is a larger blow to the project than I may have thought already...
Regain Records, 2009
Genre: Black Metal
1. ...Of Disorder
2. Hate Me... God?
7. Suffer in Silence
9. Endstille - Endstille (Verführer)
Endstille seem to be releasing new music every couple of years and this seems to be a really good pace for them. They've really hit their sound in stride ever since "Navigator" hit. "Verführer" seems to hit hard like "Navigator" out the gate. The album is actually pretty dynamic and covers a lot of Endstille's past territory, making this a really strong collection of songs.
Endstille have had an extraordinary career when it comes to their art. "Verführer" really covers the whole gamut for them. The album launches in with "...Of Disorder" which assaults us with some of the most intense blasting recorded by Endstille. Beyond that the guitars are actually performing a really interesting rhythm that draws the listener in entirely. The album turns to a gritty driving rhythm with "Depressive/Abstract/Banished/Despised" and is some of the best Gorgoroth worship out there. I daresay it comes off as heavier than the masters have done themselves. Then "Ursprung" is a really slow and melancholic song for the band, which is up there with some of the material performed on "Frühlingserwachen". So, as we can see, this is actually a rather dynamic ride for us. This is one of their more well recorded albums, so I don't think it has the gritty edge of the earlier releases. When the guitars head into a more melancholic phase, they sound a lot warmer rather than harsh, as they had in the past. Based on the above sketch this album sort of waxes and wanes between levels of intensity. Their albums have usually done this in the past, but for some reason I feel like its a lot more stark on this release. With their final iteration of the "Monotonus" track having the subscript "n", the mathematician in me wonders if this is the nth iteration of the sequence. In other words, we can track the set of "Monotonus" tracks from "1, 2, 3, ... n".
In the end we actually have a very strong release here, which is the very good news. The very bad news is that this will be Iblis' final recording with the project. After an incredible career of swiftly becoming one of Black Metal's top vocalists he has decided to end his involvement with the project. Its tough to hear this, because there is simply no substitute when your vocalist stands out in your sound this much. The band has decided to continue on and I can only hope a suitable replacement will be found, even though I know it will never really be on the same level again. At least we have some incredible material to look back on and I wish Iblis a bright future and I hope he doesn't fully end his involvement in music.
Regain Records, 2007
Genre: Black Metal
1. Among Our Glorious Existence
2. Endstilles Reich
3. Der Ketzer
4. Vorwärts! (Sturmangriff II)
5. I am God
6. No Heaven Over Germany
7. The One I Hate
10. Endstille (Realität)
Now for Endstille's real challenge... can they overcome "Navigator". The answer is no, but that doesn't mean "Endstilles Reich" isn't an incredibly solid album from the band. Its been a couple years since their magnum opus, but here we have the follow-up which is very rooted and continues along the same lines of that style. Endstille have also signed with a new label and, like many bands, have opted to sign with Regain Records, which, if I remember correctly, has come out of the ashes of No Fashion Records. They've definitely done the well established band justice and given them a full booklet with a lot of World War II images for us to see as we listen. As usual with Endstille only a few of the lyrics are shown, with smatterings of lyric fragments on other songs.
At this point in time we've come to expect a certain level of quality from a band like Endstille and they've definitely delivered with the new album. Some of the more cynical reviewers always looking for a band to change will probably complain that this material brings nothing new to the table. Personally, I'm fine with that. No one else sounds like Endstille, so only they are bringing this to the world as far as I can tell. Some of the songs on here really hit hard as can be heard with "Der Ketzer", which is one of the more intense songs on the album.
In the end there are a few gems on here that stand out as being on par with the mighty "Navigator" release. This is a very valliant attempt to compose something that is on par with that momentous release. "Endstilles Reich" is definitely a solid follow-up with their more vicious approach, or at least it feels more vicious than ever before. They still maintain some of those more melancholic moments in the riffing style, but most of this is an all out attack on the senses. This approach is certainly fitting to Endstille's style and goals.
Pranger Produktionen/Nordisch Stahlwerke, 2006
Genre: Black Metal
1. Im Hause Escherra
4. Battles Against the North
5. Your Love is Infectious
6. To Conquer the Sun
Side Graupel: here
Here we have one of the finer pieces in my Endstille collection. I was lucky enough to pick up this split when it was released simply because I loved both projects involved and I just needed to get as much Endstille in my life as possible. With the success of the immense "Navigator" which was one of the finest albums released in 2005, Endstille bring us three new tracks in this limited edition vinyl. This vinyl is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies and I own #401.
The material on the split really picks up with a similar essence to "Navigator"... I still feel that "Navigator" is a little better on some levels, but this is some magnificent material at the end of the day. It harnesses all that incredible hatred in a style only Endstille seems capable of performing. The real shining song on here is "To Conquer the Sun" for me. The riffing in this is simply spectacular and its quite the attack of a Black Metal performance.
Twilight Vertrieb, 2005
Genre: Black Metal
2. I Bless You... God
4. Above the Vault of Heaven
6. Monotonus II
8. Let There Be Heaven
9. Endstille (Leichnam)
With the sound of a submarine ping Endstille return with the best Black Metal album to be released this year. That's right, as soon as I heard this I knew what my choice would be this year. After only a fair performance on "Dominanz" I'm sure many thought that Endstille were in danger of fading into mediocrity. That stark improvement is probably one of the reasons I latched onto this album so quickly, but also the fact it kept showing up in my CD player throughout the entire year, putting other albums aside just to hear this one again
After the release of "Frühlingserwachen" I didn't think Endstille would be able to pull off a better album, which, that theory, was sort of realized when “Dominanz” was the weaker follow up. However, like the war machine Endstille are, they struck back with an even more dominating opus and this truly should have been "Dominanz," but in the end we have "Navigator" in all its dark foreboding glory. The intensely passionate guitar passages that have been ever present on Endstille's work come to a pure fulmination here and it's truly wondrous to see them top "Frühlingserwachen" in this manner. One of the better aspects of this album is that Endstille didn't solely focus on their natural ferocity, like in many of their prior releases. "Dominanz" became mundane for me because some of the writing was a little passionless. "Navigator" strikes back with the necessary atmosphere and then with even more to make up for the lost time on the previous release, an atmosphere only possibly created by L. Wachtfels masterful guitar work.
There was one aspect of this album that I was extremely disappointed in, and if I was disappointed in something, I'm sure you're wondering why it’s album of the year. Well the disappointment lies in the fact that they didn't print any of their lyrics this time. At least in previous releases they showed off some of them. When I first pulled out the "Navigator" booklet, I thought for the first time they printed all of them, but I was heartbroken to see only cool pictures with very intriguing quotes. Granted this was an artistic approach to the booklet, and I certainly appreciated it, but there were no lyrics. This sorely shortens my review of the album and doesn't allow me to get into Endstille's head, or should I say Iblis' head. This album also had some of the most intriguing song titles too, such as "I Bless You… God" and "Above the Vault of Heaven." I would love to read the lyrics, at least, to these songs if anything, and even "Bastard" just for that intense Anti-Christian overtone. This sort of coincides with the idea that they believe in God (probably as "themselves" as their own God), but they certainly hate Christ and whatever God he's possibly connected to. They write about religious concepts enough for me to be intrigued as to what they think and say on this. The focal point seems to still be war, of course, and that is ever present in the pictures they chose for the booklet along with quotes like "Not every cloud belongs to heaven..." A quote I find particularly interesting because that’s true, and a lot of the clouds that don't come from the sky are typically deadly or can harm you in some way, such as a cloud of Mustard Gas.
Musically this album is a bit more ominous than their previous works and has this unidentifiable underlying essence to the songs that give it this special feeling. As a listener you can't really put it into words. The essence of Endstille is only created by this guitar work and is very distinguishable, at least for me, from all the myriad Black Metal groups out there. You can hear it on all Endstille releases, but it is far more ever-present on this release. The opening track “I Bless You… God” is actually a much more foreboding track than you would think for an opener and there isn't a blasting section to be mentioned. This makes me all the more intrigued to read the lyrics behind the concept. Mayhemic Destructor has definitely increased his repertoire of creativity on this album. I knew the man was a good drummer, but it leaves me wondering if he's holding back even more overall skill and I eagerly await another Endstille performance already, if that’s even imaginable. However, Endstille doesn't hold back for long and when "Navigator" kicks in all the untamed ferocity of their prior material comes back full force in this title track. I remember from my "Dominanz" review that I had mentioned Iblis’ vocals sounded a fair bit weaker than previous works. Well "Navigator" shows that he has lost nothing and that may have been due to just a production thing. "Navigator" sees him back in full range and power, and it’s his overbearing power as a vocalist that really makes me appreciate his art all the more. He adds that destructive insanity into every track he performs on. I daresay this is by far the best vocal performance to grace a recording studio this year. Also on this album we see the long lost "Monotonus II." On "Dominanz" we heard “Monotonus III” then "Monotonus I" an order I thought originally was a little iffy when I first looked at it, and then more to my surprise I saw part two was nonexistent. "Monotonus II," which is comprised of what seems to be two riffs, is not a boring song in the least. Endstille are one of the few bands out there who can make a two riff song interesting. A true testament of their ability to vary the song in other ways with different instruments to keep the listener interested as to what’s going on.
This album presents everything I wanted to hear in a Black Metal release this year and more. It's a star achieving work for Endstille, a testament to their power and creativity as a band, and this is now the album that I will see if they can overcome in future releases. "Frühlingserwachen" is still one of my top albums for this band, but I must give credit where credit is due to the mighty "Navigator" and how it overcomes all their previous efforts. And as Iblis would more than likely not want me leaving here without making some remark to promote Anti-Christian ethics, I leave you with a quote from the album "Bastard... maybe another name for your god..."
It was tough to choose a sample track for this album... In the end I went with the title track because that opening scream of "Navigator" is just spectacular.
Twilight Vertrieb, 2004
Genre: Black Metal
3. Conquest is Atheism
4. Monotonus III
5. Bleed for Me
10. Endstille (Feindfahrt)
After hearing the momentous “Frühlingserwachen” I couldn’t wait to get my hands on “Dominanz” when it came out. While overall this is a good album, it just doesn’t hold up as much against the mighty “Frühlingserwachen.” For some reason I felt that the songs had less of passionate hatred that was present on the previous album. It is somewhat reminiscent of “Operation Wintersturm” in its emotionless approach. Personally I feel that Endstille could have done better, I know they have it in them to not get lost in a generic rut, so hopefully they will shine through all the more on the next release.
The opening sequence “Dominanz” is probably the best song on the album because when it goes through the chorus section you can hear that beautiful Endstille tone show through that was on the previous work. The first thing I noticed is that the production has been shifted slightly in its focal point. One of the things that threw me for a loop on “Frühlingserwachen” was how incredibly powerful the vocal performance was. Unfortunately on “Dominanz” they seem to have turned the vocals down slightly so that they come across much less oppressive. Strangely the overwhelming vocal performance worked on the previous album and it probably would have worked here. I think at the end of the day it is good they are trying to bring the vocals into a balanced mix more. However, they didn’t have as much of the unbridled insanity I felt before. You can see Endstille is still thinking things through on this level.
Don’t get me wrong the guitar work has always been great in Endstille, but I couldn’t help but feel they were really reaching on this album, as if they got into somewhat of a rut here and there and rehashed old guitar sequences we heard on the previous two albums. Hell they even went older with “Conquest is Atheism,” which is total Celtic Frost worship. You can practically hear Celtic Frost’s song “Into Crypt of Rays” showing through as the song opens. “Bleed for Me” has a total Darkthrone riff in it too. While overall this isn’t a bad thing because the songs sounds great, but I think it just exemplifies the point more that Endstille were slightly reaching for material this time around. Thankfully we do hear that patented Endstille sound in some songs here and there so the album isn’t a total bust by any means. Just listen to “Monotonus III” and tell me that’s not a brilliant song! “Crucified” is probably one of the strongest tracks as well.
Another really cool part about this album is that they actually printed more of their lyrics this time. Unfortunately it wasn’t a full blown track by track lyrics sheet, but we got to see more of what goes on in Endstille’s mind. Aside from “Conquest is Atheism” there isn’t too much going on in their heads besides warfare. It is interesting to note the last verse on “Conquest is Atheism” because it does hold an interesting meaning in its words: “This is man’s disgrace, but not the grace of God. The will to reign (eternal) known by reason of force.” It’s sort of saying that man’s dream has always been to reign eternal, but it’s a futile pursuit because it’s not ordained by the grace of God that any one man can reign eternally, I’m sure Christ is no exception to this outlook. A strange verse coming from a band that boasted track titles like “Ripping Angel Flesh” on the last album, which is one of the best songs they’ve ever made. So basically it’s similar to the concept that any man that strives for conquest must be an atheist at heart because no God will grant him that wish of eternal reign, and the word “religion” is merely an excuse for this means of war. Don’t be fooled though, I have every faith that Endstille are definitely pro-war. While many would confuse them with Nazism possibly because of their World War II photos and being from
Another thing I couldn’t help but notice on the packaging was a “Stop the Madness” emblem on the case that resembled a drum trigger. I’m sure all of us old school metal fans remember the “Stop the Madness” blurbs on all the Roadrunner albums back in the early 1990’s to stop drug use. I’ve seen many parodies of this campaign such as on Mysticum’s album “Never Stop the Madness” campaign. All of these are quite laughable and they’re no doubt made in jest of the original campaign. Endstille are pretty dedicated to the no triggers thing though, which I can highly respect, for they say “Triggers are no fun. Triggers ruin the life and happiness of millions. It must stop. We appeal in particular to the youth of today. Stop the madness! There are better things in life. Endstille supports the stop the madness campaign against the use of triggers. Join us!” I thought this was actually a really cool point, I’m sure they are referring to that over produced Black Metal evolution that has been coming up as of late. Listen to the new millennium Mayhem material or the new Behemoth albums gone Death Metal, the drums are borderline on over triggering. Granted I enjoy Behemoth a lot and I think the triggered system is befitting of their newer sound, but that was only up to “Thelema 6.” “Zos Kia Cvltvs” to me sounds boring. I personally have stopped using my own trigger system except for the bass drums. Nevertheless, if I had a drummer like Mayhemic Destructor in my band I sure as hell wouldn’t want him using triggers either. This guy basically is a human drum machine and a triggered Endstille song would greatly take away from their entire atmosphere. It doesn’t matter, it’s not like things are hard to hear on their albums. You can hear everything just fine to me and every other veteran Black Metal fan, so I say to Endstille keep up your campaign and make sure you keep that darkness alive in your atmosphere.
“Dominanz” finally comes to a close with a really cool instrumental outro called “Endstille.” Rife with bomb and explosion samples to give their slow paced guitar line that extra atmosphere. I think this is a very befitting closing track to this album, giving sort of a feeling to signify that the war is finally over. Either way it’s a very impressive track to close with.
Despite this album’s shortcomings, it is overall not a terrible album. I personally pull out “Frühlingserwachen” when I want to listen to an Endstille album and I probably always will choose it over “Dominanz.” It’s unfortunate that “Dominanz” isn’t as good, but if “Dominanz” was my first actual Endstille experience I would have enjoyed this album a hell of a lot anyway, so don’t let that discourage you if this is the only Endstille album you can track down. I know around the time these albums were released they’re not exactly easy to get a hold of, especially in the
Twilight Vertrieb, 2003
Genre: Black Metal
2. Ripping Angelflesh
3. With the Fog They Come
6. Biblist Burner
7. World Free of Christ
"The German radio has just announced that Hitler is dead."
Don’t be confused by Endstille’s World War II pictures, this is not a National Socialist band. I’m getting tired of people just arbitrarily labeling something as NSBM if it’s Black Metal. Most Black Metal is not NSBM. I once saw Deathspell Omega labeled as NSBM on eBay, it was the dumbest thing I had ever seen.
Anyway, this is Endstille’s second effort and what an incredible improvement from “Operation Wintersturm.” I actually found “Operation Wintersturm” mildly boring and it does not have very high replay value. “Frühlingserwachen” seems to have twenty times the passion ingrained into every song written on the album and a hell of a lot of replay value. Usually this doesn’t happen with a second release. Most bands have to try hard to top their debut, not Endstille; they crush it within the first few minutes of pressing the play button. I’m not really sure what it is about this album because I’ve listened to it closer than usual prior to writing this and there aren’t a whole lot of stand out points musically that are wholly different from Black Metal already out there. The feel of the songs though has a major difference. Upon first listen of this band the listener can hear something inherently different, but when closely inspected not everything is all that out of the ordinary. Just listen to “With the Fog They Come” and you’ll see exactly what I mean by an incredible overtone of atmosphere. All this is accomplished with no keyboards, of course, making it all the more impressive.
Aside from the overall different feel of the songs the first thing the listener is assaulted by is the vocal performance. This guy is incredibly good. I firmly believe that he must have had the microphone inputs in the red the entire recording session because his vocals sound peaked in the studio. Usually that’s a very bad thing, but for “Frühlingserwachen” it adds an incredible degree of intensity and power to the underlying compositions. An interesting note about the drumming is that there are no triggers used at all. In fact the drummer is completely anti-triggers and surprisingly the drum production is quite decent. It’s got a very organic feel, which is great for these songs. Granted there are some dynamic issues here and there with certain things getting softer when playing fast, but the snare drum is mic-ed up perfectly and you can hear it just fine when he goes into the intensely fast blast beats.
Endstille is truly the tour de force of Germany and this is by far one of the best German Black Metal bands I’ve heard in a long time. I consider this a more essential album for everyone’s Black Metal collection because regardless if the guitars aren’t anything overly different everyone who listens to this will be able to “feel” the difference rather than simply hearing it. That’s what makes this so special. This album is like entering a war zone, be prepared.
Genre: Black Metal
1. Der Hetzer (Batterie 4)
2. Jesus Christ
3. Discovering Rapture as an Art
4. Operation Wintersturm
5. Mute Their Ways
6. God of Gods
7. Ballad of Frostbitten Heart
The war machine of Endstille finally assaults the earth with their debut album “Operation Wintersturm.” I believe this was originally a CD-r demo the band produced themselves, but naturally, it was good enough to press directly onto CD when Twilight picked them up. Compared against their first effort “DEMOn” this is an immense improvement. “DEMOn” was just an average demo, at best, and I’m not overly surprised why they didn’t get picked up on a label when they put it out. It was fast and harsh Black Metal, sure, but it’s nothing compared to what they put forth on “Operation Wintersturm.” “Operation Wintersturm” is like listening to artillery fire in comparison because it is such an improvement in power.
"DEMOn" had a riffing style that seemed like they were trying to fit themselves into the everyday Black Metal mold, the tried and true that get bands signed, but never make them anything special. Even though “Operation Wintersturm” starts off with the same growling intro “DEMOn” does, “Operation Wintersturm” is where Endstille truly find themselves as a band and really put their own twisted spin on the genre. I’ll start this concept with what is written inside the booklet: “Endstille stands for the limitation of Black Metal.” Naturally Endstille will always be a band with no fancy studio work, no keyboards, only harsh guitars, raw vocals and untriggered drums. The music itself is incredibly monotonous and somewhat a-tonal, so why am I praising this so highly? Let me tell you, Endstille is by far the only band that exists that can make this performance sound immensely interesting and powerful. I can name no other band out there that presents material like this and keeps their listeners enthralled. There are few bands that can hit a single chord for a minute going and keep a listener tuned in. It’s really the combination of the musicians they compiled for this work. If you think about the details, no other drummer would have done it quite as well, no other vocalist could assimilate himself into this style as viciously, no other bassist would have been able to keep the music thundering, and no other guitarist could write guitar lines to complement the other aforementioned skills. There is simply no other way this approach could have been done with such immense success as far as I’m concerned.
In terms of influences, I think you can hear some Nazxul (especially in “War Metal” vocally) and some Marduk here and there, and some Gorgoroth, which seem to be their more major influences. I could be completely wrong about this when the band reads it, because I’ve noticed that it’s hard to tag influences onto someone because that’s all in perspective, for all I know they could be big fans of Emperor and were most influenced by them! However, their chord formations are undeniably Scandinavian in nature, but the riff presentation has a strangely different essence to me. I think this is what Marduk was initially trying to do, but instead Marduk just sounded boring after a while, Endstille actually sounds like a proper attack. Maybe this is due to the creativity of their drummer, which we all know Fred Andersson is not the bastion of creative sequences, so Mayhemic Destructor certainly has a hand up on him in that regard. The other factor that brings the whole thing together for me is the vocal performance. Iblis is by far one of the stronger vocalists I’ve ever heard. He may sound incredibly incomprehensible on this album, but he really uses his voice as an instrument to emphasize so much more, rather than to get what he has to say across to the listeners. His screams are so much more intense than other vocalists I’ve heard, it just adds in that extra set of intense power that the music properly needs. He also layers his voice perfectly with high, mid-range, and lower growls/screams throughout the recording just for that added emphasis behind his initial attack. The album closes in a very odd fashion; “Endstille” is not an original track, being that it’s silent up until the very last few minutes which I think the band basically just sampled in a German traditional piece. So the album as whole closes on this strange up beat note with a humorous German song, with what I think is accordions and everything.
This is all why Endstille was seemingly launched overnight to being one of the best Black Metal bands in Germany, in my opinion. They were right; Germany did need a Black Metal band, one that stood out from the rest! Endstille was up to that task and I hope they continue to be up to that task. If you’ve never enjoyed the monotonous approach of harsh Black Metal, you might not enjoy this as much as me, but I enjoyed this immensely. I like a lot of the harsher brands of Black Metal and Endstille is basically the pinnacle of that style for me. There is no other band I can name that can properly be defined as putting out such an impressive attack! This band comes highly recommended from me.
Genre: Black Metal
1. Tired Sun
2. Sea of Negativity
4. Realm IV
Delving back in the years and giving Endstille's demo a listen is sort of interesting. It actually has some really strong material on it and it's certainly a better recording quality than some demos I wind up hearing. You can definitely hear that Endstille has the potential to do some seriously great stuff and I'm really glad to see it only took a single demo for them to get noticed. We are all better off for it!
"Demon" opens with the viscous and blistering "Tired Sun" to set the stage of hellish warfare we will experience. I think this would have been more convincing if "Tired Sun" wasn't less than two minutes long... but the track is good either way. It just doesn't feel like a full track, it blisters by so fast you wonder what happened. The rest of the demo isn't nearly this intense or fast for "Sea of Negativity" is fairly slow and brooding by comparison. This was my favorite song on the demo and it really stands out. I'm surprised this was never re-recorded within the first few albums. The other two songs are very good, but similar in scope to "Sea of Negativity". The album closes with "Endstille" which is just a few seconds of silence. Makes sense for this band...
In the end it's interesting to hear. It's not a "must" hear by any stretch of the imagination, not like "Navigator" or anything. However, it is worth hearing for the tracks that are very good at least. It is nice to see this band has made a great name for themselves over the years.