Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Previously Known as Geïst

Eïs - Stillstand und Heimkehr
Lupus Lounge, 2018
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. An den schwarze besandeten Gestaden
2. Stillstand und Heimkehr

Eïs return with an EP this time around, despite the usual wait of a few years between their releases. It seems like there have been some line-up changes and the band is working with a new drummer called Torrent. I'm certainly sad to see Marlek go because his drumming was something I always found extremely enjoyable about Eïs and he always did an excellent job arranging interesting drum sections for the project. Torrent had some fairly big shoes to fill as far as I was concerned and he did a quite admirable job on his first recording.

This EP begins with a really melancholic piano piece before launching into the usual excellent Black Metal we are used to form Eïs. I know after "Bannstein" Alboin had decided to part ways with the other members, but it seems Abarus is back in the fold, which I think is a good thing, because I feel like it would be hard to imagine Eïs without him involved. Keeping Alboin and Abarus to work on the Eïs material gives us a bit of seamless continuity, so things have not changed that drastically in the grand scheme of the Eïs writing. The two new members, Dante, and Torrent perform admirably, so its nice to see they will be working with quality musicians that can keep up with the back catalog and demands of this project. This is also the first album that Eïs has recorded on their own, sure it was mastered in a studio, but the core recording and mixing was done by the band. The end result? Something more raw and primal, which hearkens back to the early days of Black Metal for me. I daresay I actually like this a lot more than their polished sound. With the new equipment and the way modern DAW's work they are able to record something in a more raw fashion, but still achieve a far more balanced mix where all the instruments can be heard. This is certainly much different from the days of old recording on fourtracks as a full band! Perhaps if they want to record something as elaborate as "Bannstein" you'd need the professional studio touch, but for something simpler like this EP, the "do-it-yourself" approach fits quite well. Everything feels more organic, which is a quality I strive for in my own music.

In the end, Eïs have given us an interesting treat that, while sounds like it belongs in their catalog, it has this different quality and overall edge to the sound. It's more like a "what if" scenario where Eïs is re-imagined in the realms of more raw Black Metal, but with enough quality to not have outright noisy production. I like it, the songs feel more aggressive like this and a bit more passionate. Either way, these are two excellent songs and are must haves for any Eïs fan out there.

Eïs - Bannstein
Lupus Lounge, 2015
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Ein letztes menetekei
2. Im noktuarium
3. Über Den Bannstein
4. Fern von Jarichs gärten
5. Im schosz der welken blätter

I've always looked forward to new material from this excellent German band and even though three span the time between the last album and "Bannstein" you can sort of tell that Eïs have hit their stride. I think Eïs have hit on the exact sound and imagery they're looking for as a project, so ever since "Galeere" the project has been meandering artistically in that particular niche for their desired sound.

"Bannstein", to me really just picks up where "Wetterkreuz" left off, except production wise this album tends to feel even more grandiose. Even just the opening song "Ein letztes menetekei" hit me a lot harder than I was expecting. Eïs usually has a much more melancholic feel and tone to their albums, but this one really hits harder for some reason. The music is just as majestic and wonderful, as we've come to expect from the project, but, wow, this album just leaps off the disc into your ears. One of the aspects that stands out a lot more than the others is the orchestration. Now, this isn't focal enough to launch Eïs into Symphonic Black Metal territory, but it's adding a layer of atmosphere to the music that just gives everything a fuller feel, such as we hear in Emperor. You'll hear flairs of keyboard work and orchestral instruments cut through the mix that just add to the overall flavor of the music. It never gets so in the front that we're at Anorexia Nervosa level, but Eïs play intense enough that they could probably compete with that project. However, Eïs never quite gets to the sheer vicious intensity of Anorexia Nervosa, they take a much more mesmerizing approach to their music, which keeps that deep atmospheric quality going throughout the album. With the orchestration layer Eïs plays around with a lot more varied melodies than their previous efforts such as in "Über Den Bannstein" after the acoustic section and it works out quite well for them.

If you've been a long time Eïs fan then "Bannstein" certainly won't disappoint. Their additions build on the "Wetterkreuz" ideas and give it an even more intense majestic feel. They do their usual excellent job of playing around with intense moments transitioning to majestic melancholic sections making their material a really dynamic journey for us listeners. Coupled with superb musicianship and songwriting makes Eïs an always wonderful journey as far as I'm concerned. "Bannstein" is yet another killer record in this projects catalog.

Eïs - Wetterkreuz
Lupus Lounge, 2012
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

Disc 1:
1. Mann aus Stein
2. Auf Kargen Klippen
3. Wetterkreuz
4. Am Abgrund
5. Bei den Sternen
6. Thou Whose Face hath Felt the Winter's Wind (Sun of the Sleepless Cover)

Disc 2: The Quarrymen Selections
1. Captivus
2. Auf Kargan Klippen
3. Wetterkreuz (Odyssey Remix)
4. Am Abgrund (Laudanum Induced Mix)
5. 72 Seconds

Three years seems to be the right time frame for Eïs to put together an album. This is the follow-up to the rather monumental "Galeere" and Eïs trend further down that path. It doesn't look like "Galeere" is being repressed under the new name any time soon. When I saw that "Wetterkreuz" was set to be released, I immediately ordered a copy of this limited two disc edition. It comes housed in a beautiful digibook and is limited to 850 copies. The booklet is beautiful, but my only complaint is that it is glued into the book, so you can't look at the booklet separately. It seems Eïs has also undergone further line-up changes and is now down to a two piece. Luckily this doesn't seem to have marred the compositional quality since "Galeere" and in fact Eïs has only grown since that time.

"Wetterkreuz" is certainly their strongest album so far and with the atmosphere ever improving it makes Eïs even a more to be paying attention to. It seems the nautical theme of "Galeere" has given way to a sort of cosmic coldness. In order to evoke this Eïs blends together a sound that really works well together. They take their usual approach to the work, but I hear serious influence from ColdWorld and Darkspace. The atmosphere, I hear touches of the ColdWorld style, but the Ambience driving some areas I feel is more of a Darkspace/Paysage d'Hiver blend in a lot of ways. However, Eïs has always had more of an uplifting atmosphere at times, so they take those styles in a rather drastically different direction. This isn't bad, it just gives the music a more chilling epic quality. Eïs also writes in a more melodic fashion similar to Der Weg einer Freiheit and Lunar Aurora at times. All this gives Eïs their own special sound that was first being developed on "Galeere" and "Wetterkreuz" is another chapter in, what I hope, will be a legacy of really stellar material.

The second disc is a very strange thing and if you're looking for more Black Metal, this isn't the place to look. If you're a fan of Ambient, however, then this may pique your interests a little bit. Usually I get a little worried when I see "remix" attached to songs. These days I tend to expect full on techno remixes of metal songs, but that isn't entirely what happened with these. Instead these seem to be more Ambient remixes of the songs, which really fits the material perfectly. Some parts are outright haunting. When electronic drums kick in they remind me of something I would hear off of The Axis of Perdition's "Deleted Scenes from the Transition Hospital". The only track that stands out as having a far more Techno aspect is "Wetterkreuz (Odyssey Remix)" and there are parts that have that Techno styled drumming, but with this atmosphere it reminds me of something you could hear off the Pi motion picture soundtrack. I suppose that really is the interesting aspect of this second disc, it attempts to harness the atmosphere without the Black Metal. So, many tracks are chilling and spacey in  their presentation. Overall, it is pretty well done, but I'm not sure how often I'll pull this disc out to listen to in the grand scheme of things. "Wetterkreuz" itself is, naturally better, and I have stronger Ambient releases in my collection already, but this is an interesting idea and I do like the approach. Perhaps if one artist attempted to capture the Ambient essence, this would come off as a stronger second disc, but with the multiple artists you get a rather varied interpretation. I think that variation is what marred the Ambience I really look for when I delve into that style.

In the end "Wetterkreuz" is one of the finest albums I've heard this year. It will likely be in my top 10 for 2012. If you're just finding Eïs, you've started at quite a high point, but "Galeere" is another album you should check out as well. While "Wetterkreuz" heavily improves from that release. Eïs have given us another beautiful and encompassing album.

Eïs - Kainsmal
Lupus Lounge, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Erben aller Einsamkeit
2. Einst War es Mein
3. Lykoi
4. Stille Wasser
5. In Pans Hallen
6. Kainsmal
7. Carpathian Forest (Carpathian Forest Cover)

At the same time the "Patina" re-release hit, we also go the "Kainsmal" re-release. Naturally, I purchased both when they came out. This is really same kind of format as the prior review. It's a two disc set with the first disc being a revised version and the second being the original version. They go a little bit further with this re-release and offer a Carpathian Forest Cover as a bonus track.

This one offers some even heavier work done on the booklet. Even though the cover has remained largely the same, the booklet has been done in much greater detail. Again, the guitars have been heavily re-recorded, giving this album an almost entirely different experience for the listeners. I'm glad to see that Alboin commented on the split with Ainvar in the liner notes, because that was something I was quite curious about. It doesn't go into any grave detail, but it does address there was quite a problem with the split. In the end, this is the "Kainsmal" version to hear. It's much stronger than the first and "Kainsmal" was a much better and more cohesive composition when compared to the first, in my opinion. I'm pleased to see re-releases that are actually worth my time to get rather than just some remastering.

Eïs - Patina
Lupus Lounge, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Snow White
2. Wanderer bei Fels una Fjord
3. Thanatos Phobein
4. Winters Schwingeenschlag
5. Norn
6. Patina
7. Jingian
8. Spätsommerabende

It seems this band is not having the greatest luck with their band names. From Eismalsott to Geïst and now to Eïs, this time being forced because there is already another German band named Geïst. With this problem requiring an immediate change after their 2009 master-piece "Galeere", I think the band tries to make the best of it and has used this to re-launch some of their earliest material. Rather than just release a new album under their new name and probably confuse people, they first re-release their first two albums from the Geïst name. Don't worry, they actually make it worth your time to get these and these are absolutely the editions you'll want to get ahold of if you are a new fan of the band.

Here we have the "Patina" re-release. It's a two CD edition of this album and the first disc is the "revised 2010 version", which has quite a lot of changes. There has been some re-tracking of guitars, fixing mistakes here and there, and just making the guitar performance all around more solid. The songs, as written, haven't changed at all, they've just had their recorded parts improved. They've also given this a major re-mixing and you can tell its been overhauled when compared to the original version. Then they've finished it off with the obligatory re-mastering that most re-releases only give us. That wasn't enough for Eïs, they went the extra mile to give us something a little more for the fans of their music. They've also redone all of the art on the release and redone the booklet entirely. In the jewel case inlay there is a little interview, of sorts, where Alboin recollects what it took to make this release. It was really interesting to read this and see how this album developed in the early days and their problems with labels and recording.

It really is a huge improvement over the original "Patina" experience, which I thought was only okay. Sure, it had potential, but with this edition you feel that a lot more. There are still pieces that are out of place and it is certainly not as mature as "Galeere", of course. Some of the tracks still feel out of place with their riffs amidst some extremely atmospheric tracks, but all that can be read about in my original review. Either way, I did enjoy revisiting this album with all the new improvements.

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