Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Schrat - Alptraumgänger
Folter Records, 2018
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro - Wahn
2. Alptraumgänger
3. Masken des Schweigens
4. Gräberland
5. Wolf is erwacht - Adams Sohn zerfetzt
6. Outro - Taumel
Live 2017:
7. Intro - Rausch
8. Knochenkult
9. Kriegsgericht
10. Endzeitphilosophie
11. Eruption

When I first saw it announced that Folter would be handling the next Schrat release I was immediately excited, because Folter has a further reach than the prior labels Schrat has worked with. I've been dealing with Folter for well over a decade now and they always deliver! So, I was very pleased for Schrat to be getting noticed by Folter, especially given how incredible "Artefakt" was. When it was finally announced a new release was looming, I couldn't wait! Schrat is a band I have on my short list of bands I keep in fairly constant rotation.

The first thing about this album I saw was disappointing, this isn't truly a full-length, instead it's more of an EP with some live songs to round it out to full-length status. In reality we're only getting four new Schrat songs at the end of the day, not include intro's and outro stuff. The layout and design of the album is wonderful though, so I have no complaints there, other than I'm not a big fan of gluing the booklet into the inside of the digipak. Though, some people might like this because then it doesn't fall out... but, I'm not into this design feature. The other sad news related to this release is that shortly after the release long time guitarist Skilnir has left the project. Given the body of work this is disappointing and I hope Schrat will continue to release quality music, sometimes a creative force can be a big blow to a band, but I am hopeful Schrat can continue!

So, how do the new songs stack up? Well, they're quite different from "Artefakt". "Artefakt" had a lot of dark atmosphere and really wonderfully thought out. A full-length in that style would have been an immense and impressive listen, "Alptraumgänger" takes an entirely different approach and I think it heralds back more to the "Schattenwahn" style. The tracks on "Alptraumgänger" are vicious and violent, which Schrat does a great job performing. There's even some serious thrashier moments thrown into the riffing style, which heralds back to bands like Aura Noir and riffing like that. This blended with the more traditional Black Metal riffing makes for a really intense release and is probably the most intense album Schrat has put out yet. So, I guess the bad news here is that we didn't get a full-length treatment of "Artefakt"... but the really good news is we have "Alptaumgänger". If you enjoy that particular brand of violent styled Black Metal then this is an absolute must hear!

Creating a fairly stark contrast in releases the last part of this album is a live recording from 2017 where they play two tracks from "Artefakt" and two tracks from "Schattenwahn". I don't know if their live show ever goes back further. However, the live recording is fairly good quality. It's kind of weird having the outro of "Alptaumgänger" right before the intro to the live set... which doesn't appear to have been part of their actual live set. Or maybe it was? They just have the studio version here, I don't know. Either way, as far as live tracks go, they're well recorded and Schrat do an excellent job performing their songs.

In the end I would consider this an absolute must buy. I would've considered that without the live tracks as well. Then again I'm a pretty big fan of what Schrat is doing musically, so unless they drastically change styles, I'll probably always be there for whatever they have to release. The only problem with this release is the fact that it's not truly a full-length means I probably won't put it into the running for album of the year. Ah well... I hope they will put out a proper full-length like "Schattenwahn" soon, because their new material is so good I would love to just sit in their atmosphere for a solid 45 minutes or so.

Schrat - Artefakt
Knochensack Versand, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

1. Fluktuation
2. Knochenkult
3. Endzeitphilosophie

When I saw it announced that Schrat was releasing some new music, I immediately ordered a copy of this, because if it was anything nearly as good as "Schattenwahn" I certainly needed to hear more. Don't be fooled by the date on this release, the music was actually recorded back in 2011 and only now we are finally getting to see it hit the light of day! Probably why the EP is called "Artefakt".

As with "Schattenwahn" this EP captures the same majesty and excellent we expect from this project now. The opening song "Fluktuation" wastes no time in launching into an amazing riff that immediately catches our attentions, before launching into some very good melancholic atmospheres to blend in with the riff. The other two songs on the album follow in similar suit in terms of quality, with "Knochenkult" kicking the tempo up quite a bit and "Endzeitphilosophie" striking a middle balance between the two.

In the end if you enjoyed "Schattenwahn" you can expect the same level of quality in these songs. I'm really glad Schrat decided to release the material, because I've enjoyed this EP quite a bit. I truly hope there is more music in the works. It seems like it's been quite a while since they've done anything, if the last time they were in the studio was 2011.

Schrat - Schattenwahn
ARTicaz, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Prolog
2. Mal der Schande
3. Schwarze Brut
4. Transzendenz
5. Beschwörung...
6. Kriegsgericht
7. Jenseits der Einsamkeit
8. Eruption
9. Im Zwielicht-Abgrund
10. ...Erbamungslos

I, honestly, forget how I heard about Schrat, but "Schattenwahn" was my first experience with the project. Needless to say it grabbed my attention immediately! After a lackluster debut album, Schrat return with incredibly strong second full-length. I don't think I got this album too long after it's original release date and it's really stood the test of time, even five years later. I find myself still listening to this album on a somewhat regular basis and enjoying it.

There has been a bit of a line-up shift in Schrat and Nastrond has moved from drums to vocals. This was clearly a smart move in my opinion, because his vocals are actually quite excellent and sounds better than the first album. Leaving a gap in the drum seat, they turned to Seraph of Dark Fortress to session drum for them, which was a great idea. He's an extremely solid drummer and clearly performs well in the studio. The combination of these changes has launched Schrat into excellent status in my book.

"Schattenwahn" falls into the more traditional Black Metal variety of albums, but it's so well done I can't help but get into it. The production quality is perfect, everything is balanced and it's not too over produced. Now, while some people may find this album to be too similar to albums that already exist, I look at "Schattenwahn" in the following context. Take some of the best riffing Black Metal has to offer from various projects all over the world and put them on a single album and that's what I think of when I hear "Schattenwahn". Okay, maybe it doesn't have every single top riff, but I'm sure you get the idea. "Schattenwahn" is like a celebration of the best Black Metal has to offer rolled into one release. It ranges from extremely catchy riff sections similar to what Dödheimsgard has done in the past along with chilling sections that are reminiscent of "De Mysteriis dom Sathanas". Throw in some soaring passages similar to Lunar Aurora and you've certainly got my attention. They've definitely stepped up the writing on this album, as you can see.

In the end if you're looking for some extremely solid Black Metal then I can't recommend "Schattenwahn" enough. The changes Schrat has made has really turned into a winning formula for them and I hope they stick with this going forward. I look forward to anything else the put out in the future.

Schrat - Bestimmung Raserei
Self-Released, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro Abrechnung
2. Blutkatharsis
3. Reich des Schrats
4. Geist der Felsen
5. Erstickungstod
6. Steinernes Vermaechtnis
7. Bestimmung
8. Die Bestie

I wish I was about to regale everyone with tales of this great new band I found, but sadly this is not the album for that. Turns out their second album is where that whole aspect comes in. For now we have the debut full-length from Schrat, which the band self published. Now, I've never heard their demo and I can't compare the two, but if I ever track down a copy I'll listen and review it.

For now, let's just delve into the full length. I wish I had more positive things to say, but I don't have much. It's a fairly mediocre release by Black Metal standards. It has everything you expect and has some moments that reminisce of Bathory, but it is all only okay. The real problem is that nothing really grabs my attention. There's no fondness for the atmosphere the songs generate. "Erstrickungstod" has some good moments, so the band is capable of generating some interesting stuff, but for the most part this album falls quite short. The musicians behind the project seem to be quite competent and the production is pretty good, with a balance between audible and harsh. The vocals are a bit distorted in the mix though, but that's the only major issue I can see.

Overall this album is probably worth skipping unless you simply must have all the Schrat albums like I wanted. I can assure you the discography gets much stronger after this, but even though the debut wasn't all that memorable, it's not a bad starting point for a band.

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