Folter Records, 1995
Genre: Black/Death Metal
1. Triumph des Willens
2. Herbst der Zeit
3. Lost in Thought
4. Condamned to Taste the Agony
5. Sinn des Krieges
6. Eat Your Enemies
7. Verbrannte Erde
8. Not Belief in Me
Delving back into earlier years we have Sickness which is the second release from Folter Records. I believe the first is a 7" vinyl and I'm probably never going to find that. After four demos and a live recording Sickness put out their full length album. I have never heard the demo material and I'm not sure if this full length is good enough to motivate me to track it all down. Sickness has long been broken up by now and I'm sure this band has faded away from everyone's memory, but on my journey to track down all the missing Folter Records releases I didn't have I finally picked this one up.
Sickness probably qualifies as one of the earlier Black/Death projects to be formed. They weren't nearly as good as Necrophobic, but "Verbrannte Erde" isn't a bad album. I think the main issue I have with this album is the Death Metal parts feel a bit forced and I feel like their solution to give a "Death Metal" feel to the music is to use really low growls. This is not a great solution, in my opinion, because the more standard Black Metal styled vocals on this album work really great with their music. Doing low growls over some of their better Black Metal parts makes it feel disjointed. Another factor that gives it a disjointed feel is I think the songs are broken up into sections most of the time. Here is the Death Metal riff and then it is followed by a Black Metal riff and only so often are the two blended together. This is not like what Necrophobic managed to do with blending the two genres. I also think Sickness' Black Metal is a little too atmospheric and melancholic to even be blended with Death Metal. There are riffs in "Condamned to Taste the Agony" that are very reminiscent of what Hades would be doing, and I can't imagine ever blending that with Death Metal. All that being said... I think "Verbrannte Erde" had interesting ideas and I think if the band stayed together longer they could have trended in a direction that sounded quite good. Unfortunately we will never get to hear that progression and I'm not sure how much influence Sickness ever played for modern bands today.
Delving back this far brings us to discuss the production value of the recording. Overall it's pretty good quality, which is something I would come to expect from Folter releases, so to hear it this early is fairly interesting. The only problem this band had was the Death Metal vocals are way too loud in the mix. It's as if the vocal track was mixed with one setting, even though they are using two distinctly different vocal forms. Other than that, when you just hear the band playing you can hear everything fairly well. The packaging is very simple, it's pretty much all black. Inside the booklet all you'll find is some pictures of war with color effects messing up the photos. I assume they're from World War II, but there isn't much else to see.
Overall this wasn't a terrible album, it certainly had it's moments. Some riffs are very good and I did enjoy hearing them play around with the various ideas of metal, but I don't think this is something I will be pulling out often. I certainly don't feel I need to hear more than I've heard already, so this might be something the readers out there can skip for now. I will say that I think if the band had stuck with just the Black Metal I would have very different things to say about this release. I think this band is much better at the Black Metal than the Death Metal and they would have really put out something very interesting in just the genre of Black Metal. In the end this is more interesting as a historical footnote from my perspective.