Thursday, March 20, 2014


Kriegsmaschine - Enemy of Man
No Solace, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. None Shall See Redemption
2. Lies of the Fathers
3. Farewell to Grace
4. Asceticism and Passion
5. To Ashen Havens
6. Enemy of Man

Nine years! We've waited nine years for Kriegsmaschine to unleash the next full length. I was hoping for something truly immense, something that built and lived up to the highest of expectations. But, when I first listened to it, I wasn't sure if I liked it. This was a very unexpected turn from the authors of "Altered States of Divinity"... I actually wasn't sure if I liked this. It wasn't until the second or third listen that I really sort of understood the real power of this album.

If you were expecting some raging intensity from Kriegsmaschine, like I was, then you may be strangely disappointed. I waited and waited for Darkside's blast beats to kick in, but it never actually happens. That's right, there are no blast beats on this album. Strange how this was one of the first things I noticed, but what they've used instead is actually really interesting. This is not something you can probably get away with in every Black Metal release, but Darkside's drum work truly stands out on this release. The drumming seems a lot more technical and involved than anything he has done in the past and it really complements the haunting music in a very strange, but very good way.

"Enemy of Man", rather than have the intense tremolo picked guitar lines of Black Metal, falls back on the passages that built the haunting nature of Kriegsmaschine's songs in the past. This time, instead of just having them as a piece of a song on an album, we are shown what an entire album of this nature would sound like. I think this unconventional approach is what sort of unsettled me at first, because they weren't doing the things I had a grown to love, but with "Enemy of Man's" approach being so well executed I have managed to become vastly interested in what they've tried to do here. While I certainly miss the vicious and intense blasting passages of prior albums, I can actually get into this album for vastly different reasons. In terms of atmosphere I think this actually conjures up visions of early Ondskapt blended with modern Deathspell Omega, or Mortuus. However, where Deathspell Omega has extremely chaotic and frantic songwriting, Kriegsmaschine is heavily structured and well measured. To be perfectly honest, "Enemy of Man" is basically the album I wish Deathspell Omega had bothered to put out in their modern form, but Kriegsmaschine has really refined and perfected that style here. Just listen to that vocal execution on "Asceticism and Passion", you will rarely hear bands performing this or executing it at this level of perfection.

Given the originality of how Kriegsmaschine has refined certain styles into this album I think it is highly likely that this will wind up towards the top of my Top 10 list at the end of the year. If you are interested in an album that focuses on the truly haunting soundscape that can be constructed with Black Metal then this is an absolute must buy. Few bands can perform at this caliber or write music this compelling, so on that note I urge exploration of this album. I realize this may not be for everyone and the lack of intensity may mar the interest for some, but this is more of a contemplative album that you sit and admire like a painting in a museum or a compelling mathematical proof that brings you some kind of higher understanding, such as Picard's Theorem. Truly beautiful things... all of it.

Kriegsmaschine - Prism: Archive 2002-2004
No Solace, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

Pre-Produciton 2004:
1. Prism
2. Ma'aseh Bereshit
Promo 2004:
3. A Thousand Voices
4. Unto Wormfeast Flesh
5. Apostle of Plague
6. Bloodfetish
7. Hands of the Plague Master
8. B.T.S.
9. Devotee (Son of the God Supreme)
10. In Hate of Christ
The Flame that Burns Inside:
11. The Flame that Burns Inside
12. Stigma
13. Flagrum
14. Deathcult Supreme
15. Nuclear
16. Goathammer Sorcery
17. Uberhate
18. Last Dusk of a Dying World

"Prism" is a compilation album finally releasing a lot of the rare and hard to find Kriegsmaschine material that was released in the early days. If you're a true Kriegsmaschine maniac then this is absolutely worth getting, because you get to hear all these pieces of the bands early history that many were not able to hear.

The big draws on here are the fact that it includes both Kriegsmaschine demos and the material found on their first split with Szron, which is now long out of print. The other major draw are the first two tracks which are a pre-production of two songs from "Altered States of Divinity". These tracks actually have a  major difference  from what we got on the album. This is before Leatherface ceased doing vocals, so these two tracks give us an idea of what "Altered States of Divinity" may have sounded like with him behind the microphone. He does a great job, honestly, probably one of the best he's done with the project. However, I think the end result of the album actually sounds even better with M and Destroyer handling vocal duties together. The only other piece of music I had never heard was the "Promo 2004" material, because this basically wound up being released as "A Thousand Voices", but the music quality is just a little bit different from the release. The original demo material sounds great and the quality is higher than the original material I had heard prior to this. So, even if you have the demos and the original Szron split, this makes it worth getting for the improved quality.

In the end, this is a collectors dream on one CD. If you were missing those pieces of Kriegsmaschine that were released in the early days, this is your chance to finally hear this music. It's a great history to see how Kriegsmaschine grew as a band over the years and I really did enjoy this retrospective release.

Infernal War & Kriegsmaschine - Transfigurations
Malignant Voices, 2010
Genre: Black Metal

Infernal War:
1. Primal Degradation
2. Into the Vortex of Naught
3. Incipit Chaos
4. Onward Destrudo
5. Fear and Loathing in Gethsemane

Side Infernal War: ...coming eventually...
Side Kriegsmaschine:

Now that some serious time has passed and Mgła is going very strong for M. Kriegsmaschine has reared it's ugly head to do an immense split with Infernal War. I think Kriegsmaschine is the kind of band that needs to sit and contemplate their material and only release things when only the best atmosphere has been developed. I'm not sure if the material with Szron were tracks left off of "Altered States of Divinity" or newly written after the album, but the tracks with Infernal War are surely newly written material and they are wonderful. The layout and booklet for this release is also extremely beautiful and I highly recommend getting it on these merits as well. The interior looks like an old book with images in the margins of the lyric sheet, making this look quite special.

"Onward Destrudo" wastes no time in establishing an intense and dark atmosphere for the listeners. If you thought Kriegsmaschine was losing any kind of steam, this is swiftly proven false. I almost wish this had turned into some kind of full-length after hearing only the two songs presented here, but perhaps M. and Darkside began writing more with Mgła. I'm sure Destroyer was busy with Hate. When the section with the artificial harmonics hits in the middle of "Onward Destrudo" we really get to hear that immense and dark atmosphere begins to overwhelm the listener. Parts of the song take on a sort of modern Deathspell Omega feel at times as well, but Kriegsmaschine is a much more well defined and cohesive effort. Finally we transition to the real shining part of this split "Fear and Loathing in Gethsemane".  The initial vocal tone actually reminds me a lot of Hate's vocal tone, but applied in this fashion is just as intense and powerful. The song clocks in at just over eight minutes and this length is perfectly suited for how amazing this song really is. It's so well written that it marks an excellent closer to the split and will have you coming back for more.

Well, we can see Kriegsmaschine still has very strong material brooding in their systems still. Even when Kriegsmaschine is a little weak, they are still manage to write good music, but when they are very strong they are just perfect. The tracks on this split are absolutely perfect for the sound they're going for. I look forward to hearing more from Kreigsmaschine in the future... hopefully, sooner than later, if the material being written is this strong!

Szron & Kriegsmaschine Split
Under the Sign of Garazel, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

1. Beneath the Conscious Perception
2. Where Life is Absent
3. The Great Antagonist
4. Mankind's Funeral
5. Hatedriven (Satan's Reich)
6. Annihilate Prime Factor
7. E.
8. The Fall, in All its Glory

Side Szron: here
Side Kriegsmaschine:

Kriegsmaschine seems to be on the productive side lately and in the year following "Altered States of Divinity" they submitted three new songs to this split with the might Szron. Sometimes this kind of quick material turn around can result in material that is pretty weak or contrived. After such an immense release like "Altered States of Divinity" it is hard to live up to such a high bar and resetting your listeners expectations.

The material on this split is surely quite well done, as I would expect after such an immense album, but is it better... not really. Some of that incredibly intoxicating riffing that we found on "Altered States of Divinity" isn't as present here. It's as if they merely tried to uphold the new format of song structure, but not really including those hard hitting riffs that make me come back for more and more every time. Now this, by no means, implies they have released bad material, it's just not as good as the prior album to me. At the end of the day weaker Kriegsmaschine material, at this point, still means very good Black Metal. There are some riffs that shine through here and there as can be found at moments in "Annihilation Prime Factor". Overall the music is much more straightforward Black Metal and the haunting nature has taken a bit of a step back in favor of more intense passages. One thing they did on this release that was pretty interesting was in the song "E", where they included a sort of Gregorian Chant approach in the middle of their song, but instead of letting the chanting just play as in Malign, Deathspell Omega, and Rex Mundi, they played through it. This created an entirely different and awesome atmosphere! They still keep up their high quality of sampling choices, though I don't recognize where they are from this time.

In the end this is by no means bad material, in fact it is quite good overall. If you are a fan of Kriegsmaschine then you are unlikely to be disappointed in the songs. In fact "E" is downright awesome. However, if you are newly finding this band, I do totally recommend checking out "Altered States of Divinity" first.

Kriegsmaschine - Altered States of Divinity
Todeskult Entertainment, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Ma'aseh Bereshit
2. Altered States of Divinity
3. Through the Eyes of the Blind
4. Beyond the Veil
5. Prism
6. Nihilation
7. Kerigma

When I heard Kriegsmaschine had a new album ready to hit, I wouldn't say I was waiting for it with baited breath. In fact, I wasn't expecting very much beyond the kind of material they've already released. However, merely a couple minutes in to the first song I realized we truly had a special release on our hands. This release seems to draw a lot on what was being created out of the French and Swedish Occult Black Metal scenes, but I would argue that it has even advanced those to a fair degree. "Altered States of Divinity" is also one of the best releases from its year of release.

Unlike the prior Kriegsmaschine releases this album is a far more cohesive representation of the art. Where before we had tracks that felt out of place, we now have nothing but the highest quality writing presented. Every track belongs on here. Even though the overall culmination of their style was likely to reach this point, I just wasn't expecting it to shift gears this fast into stellar material. I think Kriegsmaschine really built on the sound presented on albums like Ondskapt's "Draco sit Mihi Dux" and Deathspell Omega's "Si Monvmentum Reqvires, Circvmspice." Each track has a lot of interesting layers to explore and they come across as sounding far more haunting than the prior material Kriegsmaschine was working on. Some of this sound change my have to do with the new vocalist and bassist, Destroyer, who has also played with Hate allowing their style to become all the more focused. His vocal work is much closer to M's and it really let's that style of the music shine through. The opening guitar line in "Beyond the Veil" is one of my favorites to this day and it builds to such an incredible point.

As if this truly wasn't enough for me, Kriegsmaschine has seen fit to include samples from some of my favorite movies on this recording! One sample is from the movie "Pi" and the mathematician in me is very joyous to see this get sampled. In "Prism" they sampled from the movie Stigmata, which is a sort of possession story and mostly an okay film. However, the sample they took, is one I would have chosen to use as well. The other I recognize is from the movie "Equilibrium" a sort of distopian themed movie about the human race deciding that it is better to feel nothing, than have feelings and risk going to war. It's clearly influenced by books such as 1984. The samples are really well placed and shine through very well on the recording. It's actually difficult to believe this was recorded in the same location as "A Thousand Voices", because the recording quality of "Altered States of Divinity" is so stellar and just so perfect. It has a wonderful raw edge that gives it this really organic feel, since they clearly didn't do much digitally... and that is a good thing mind you!

"Altered States of Divinity" is a rare album that only comes along every so many years. We have just been lucky that we've had quite a few releases clustered in the 2004 to 2006 period, which is unlikely to happen again for a long time. My only real concern is that it could get lost to history or somewhat overlooked due to how much material is being released. In the end this is truly one of the best albums in my vast collection and I highly recommend it become parts of others.

Kriegsmaschine - A Thousand Voices
Blutreinheite Productions, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

1. Unto Wormfeast Flesh
2. A Thousand Voices
3. Apostle of Plague
4. B.T.S.

Finally into another year we get a single Kriegsmaschine release. Another small release, probably to show off what they have been working on. This time they're getting a proper pressing on CD though, so perhaps that's why they did it. After "Devotee" they were certainly ready for it. One of the things I really appreciate about Kriegsmaschine is that they haven't tried to do a full-length yet, I don't think the music is quite there yet. This release has a really good booklet, which has a nice layout and prints the lyrics for most of the songs. Unfortunately, it is limited to only 666 copies.

"Devotee" is a decent indicator of where this band was heading with their music. They are still trying to figure out that blend of playing raging and intense Black Metal with the more brooding style. The album opens with "Unto Wormfeast" opens with one of their more intense raging songs, with riffs that do a pretty good job. The production value is far superior to anything they've release before and the guitar tone is much better this time. The tone change is very welcome and it really brings these riffs to life more than ever before. When we hit the mid-paced brooding section of "A Thousand Voices" it really shines through better than on prior releases. "Apostle of Plague" has some of the catchiest riffing on this release and still works within the realm of Kriegsmaschine's style that blends a lot of different things. The strange thing about this album is they've decided to re-record "B.T.S." from the "Devotee" album. I'm sorry, but not even the better production can make me more interested in this song. I think it's one of the reasons I don't find this release more memorable, it always ended on a low note for me, so I wind up rarely listening to it.

In the end this is a much needed upgrade to Kriegsmaschine's sound. They still haven't really reached stellar proportions in their songwriting and they are merely a good band right now. I really have no complaints about the newly written material, but right now I'm not excited to hear new material. This may change with future releases.

Kriegsmaschine - Devotee
Self-Released, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Bloodfetish
2. Hands of the Plague Master
3. B.T.S.
4. Devotee/Son of the God Supreme

Usually, I would start off with saying "another year, another demo"... but seriously this is the 3rd release Kriegsmaschine has put out in 2003. The band still struggles with a sort of decision about their approach. Are they going to be one of those no frills pummeling Black Metal bands or are they going to present a very deep sound and thought provoking songwriting? I like both approaches, but Kriegsmaschine's more well thought compositions are far stronger. This demo comes in a CD-r format and it just comes in a plastic package with the booklet folded over the case. The booklet features some lyrics at least, but there isn't much just a single folded piece.

"Devotee" presents us with a mix of songs, some good some not so good. The opening song "Bloodfetish" is actually pretty strong. "Hands of the Plague Master" is extremely well written and is definitely more of the direction I want to see Kriegsmaschine going. However, they kill that vibe with "B.T.S." which is one of the more intense songs and they just barrel through it. The riffs aren't even that well formed, so the song comes off as very out of place. Then the album closes with the very strong "Devotee/Son of the God Supreme"... so at least it ends very well. Four tracks and one throw away aren't too bad for a demo and it seems like Kriegsmaschine are writing towards the direction I'm more interested in hearing.

Some major improvements have occurred in the recording quality department for this demo as well. This is actually some pretty well recorded material and you can hear everything very well. Furthermore, the fuzzy guitar tone that plagued the earlier releases is a lot less overwhelming! On here the guitars are a lot more crisp and normal sounding. Leatherface's vocals are performed in a more standard fashion for Black Metal and it really does work very well for this release.

In the end "Devotee" is actually very well written and I really think Kriegsmaschine is trending in a direction that is more in line with their strengths. It might be a little ridiculous to release three things in one year, but if the end result is this, then I'm not one to complain.

Szron & Kriegsmaschine Split
Garazel Productions, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

Szron: Possessed by Utter Hate
1. Supremacy or Death
2. Return to the Woods Pt. I
Kriegsmaschine: The Flame that Burns Inside
3. The Flame that Burns Inside
4. Stigma

Side Szron: here
Side Kriegsmaschine:

Very shortly after "Flagrum" was released Kriegsmaschine already have a split with Szron being released. Strangely this also features a new vocalist called Leatherface. Necronosferatus from Holy Death is apparently no longer involved with the project. This is being released on Garazel Productions, which would eventually become renamed to Under the Sign of Garazel and be one of the stronger record labels out of Poland. This is a nice vinyl 7" limited to 200 hand-numbered copies and I own #194. It's not the best housing for a 7", but it's just a fold over booklet. The booklet, at least, features lyrics for Kriegsmaschine's side and just album info for Szron.

Recording wise this is still pretty similar to "Flagrum" in the sense that the guitar tone is a little fuzzy and the songs are performed in that old style Black Metal version. "The Flame that Burns Inside" opens with even some Punkier styled riffing, cast in a Black Metal fashion of course. It actually comes across as appropriate for the way Leatherface's lyrics run. His voice is pretty similar to Necronosferatus, so it doesn't seem much has changed in the vocal department. He has a that sort of high pitched shout/harsh tone that makes the vocals feel interesting and different from other bands. The song "Stigma" is by far the strongest on this release. It has a much deeper Black Metal feel and feels like more well composed song overall since it focuses more on atmosphere than pummeling a listener. The fact that you hear Daren's cowbell cut through the mix is also pretty impressive. M is clearly the stronger lyricist in this project and I do like the lyrics, despite them being a fairly primitive approach. M's lyrics would grow to be awe inspiring in the future, but here has started out writing basic, but solid material.

I want to hear more songs in the vein of "Stigma" and "Last Dusk of a Dying World" and eventually I will get my wish. However, Kriegsmaschine haven't quite hit that stride where the writing is just perfect with every note they hit.

Kriegsmaschine - Flagrum
Self-Released, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Flagrum
2. Deathcult Supreme
3. Nuclear
4. Goathammer Sorcery
5. Uberhate
6. Last Dusk of a Dying World

Kriegsmaschine is a lot more well known today, but very few people pay any attention to these early demos or much of their material prior to "Altered States of Divinity". In some respects I can certainly see why, for I listen to very little material prior to that period. It seems like M from Mgła teamed up with a couple members of Holy Death to form this project initially. According to the 2014 release "Prism" this was never really intended to be released, which might explain why I was never really able to find a copy of this. So I'm stuck reviewing some mp3's that I've downloaded a while ago. The interesting thing that I've found is that prior to this the project was called "Death Frost" until changing its name to Kriegsmaschine in 2002. I'm actually not sure which project came first now... Mgła or this one. Either way, my interest in Mgła lead me to this project as well.

As a debut demo "Flagrum" is certainly not bad. It's pretty raw material and I feel like the intent of the project was very different from what it would morph into on future releases. Most of the tracks are pretty short and very fast and hard hitting songs. The raw recording quality gives it that very primitive edge with "Nuclear" being the most stand out track in this group. The demo pretty much runs this way until we get to "Last Dusk of a Dying World" and at six and a half minutes it's really a different animal altogether. It has moments that are wonderfully haunting and has riffing that I would expect to hear on later releases or even on a Mgła release. If the whole demo was akin to this material, I would probably love it a lot more. Instead "Flagrum" is a Black Metal demo that is something I would expect of a modern band today. It's, certainly, a good start, but it doesn't capture my imagination. It comes really close with the closing track, but the focus is on intensity and violence for the most part. The riffs are solid and they certainly do a good job, but they haven't really come into their own. I think, as with Mgła at this time, they are still trying to come into their own.

Kriegsmaschine has some strong ability, but they need to work beyond all the influences running around in their heads. As you emulate the past eventually newer ideas will come, but right now "Flagrum" stands as an emulation of the past, which certainly has merits in this regard. Kriegsmaschine are a good enough band for me to say that most early demos aren't this good and it really heralds back to the early 90's in a way most bands can't. The most I can complain about is that I think the guitar tone is way too fuzzy. This is a shame, because if it was a little more controlled the demo would evoke a really icy cold atmosphere that would work very well with it. Definitely worth hearing for die-hard Kriegsmaschine fans at the very least.

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