The grand defiance and esoteric wonder of classicist melodic black metal is it’s least appreciated asset as the sub-genre ages unrepentant for it’s jovial middle period. The graceful blackened flame of furious melody is a meticulous art that easily spurns any inexperienced wielder. Leagues of tawdry Scandinavian meloblack projects fallen by the wayside across decades have shown the follies of imitation rather than true composition. The French however have their own glorious centuries of historically relevant melody to pull from and this marriage of medieval history and melodic black metal is what compelled the like-minded artists comprising Geisterfels together.
Conceived by lyricist and composer Nebel (Céline Rosenheim) in 2013, Geisterfels would incorporate fellow Nice-based multi-instrumentalist Aldébaran (Guillaume Vrac) of Darkenhöld in 2015 and Parisian vocalist Aharon (Griffon, Neptrecus) in 2016. I am a fanatic of Aldébaran‘s work in melodic black metal beginning with Artefact and especially Darkenhöld as I think ‘Castellum’ is one of the better melodic black metal records in the last decade. Coming a couple of months off of a similarly epic release from Aorlhac earlier this year it came as a surprise that I’d not discovered Geisterfels myself previous. With all instruments handled masterfully by Aldébaran the attack of Aharon‘s vocals are eager and growling like those of a starving wolf; I am not familiar with Griffon but his performance here is menacing in it’s intensity and adds greatly to the balanced tonality of the experience.
‘La névrose de la pierre’ is a staggering, forceful epic of winding majestic guitar expression amidst crumbling castle walls and a similarly deteriorated self. The lyrics and concept wind a tale, appropriately in both French and German, of a French poet’s nineteenth century travels from the Rhine to the vineyard enriched Moselle Valley that serves as a connection between south-western Germany, north-eastern France, and eastern Luxembourg. Perhaps I’m a nerd for this sort of thing but researching the depicted castles, ruins and valley itself within the lyrics was half of the allure of absorbing the poetry expressed in each song.
It is not merely a Thoreau-esque examination of nature in connection to the self but rather one that sees crumbled ancient ruins as a metaphorical parallel for the tragedy and tribulation that can similarly add up to the ruin of a man. I am not effective in translating German, but I have some decent grasp of tense and verb forms of the French language so with some help from the internet I could at the very least grasp the terribly somber mood within description of ruins and natural areas. “Im Nebel” and “Geisterfels” in particular were successful in pairing epic compositions paired with emotive resilience, prideful simile, and somber defeat. I love this sort of challenge of translation and interpretation because the meaning of each song changes with careful thought and examination. Perhaps this is a different experience for a native French speaker but the act of decoding something so personally written is something I enjoy, at least.
Glorious and inspired as the lyric poetry is, I am first and foremost a connoisseur of this type of black metal and ‘La névrose de la pierre’ offers a regal and immaculate performance from Aldébaran that is separate but relative to his work in Darkenhöld. Melodic, morose, majestic but never saccharine the black metal attack within alternates between expressive tremolo picking and gentle nods to pagan black metal. The incorporation of medieval melodic influences perhaps escapes my own knowledge outside of a ‘regal’ feeling and evocative scales that contract and release within the composition. There is great feeling to this sub-genre in general and Geisterfels is no exception to that generalization.
In making their debut with such a detailed, aggressive and melodically enriching release Geisterfels‘ examination of the ‘neuroses of the stone’ is an illuminating and complete effort worthy of any melodic black metal, or even pagan black metal, fan’s attention. It is decidedly inspired by old school melodic black metal and some smaller atmospheric black metal moments in “Im Nebel” and a few other tracks but they are generally brief and again ancient in terms of style. The pair of “Geisterfels” and “Il neige sur l’Eltz” back to back is an immersive coupling for my taste, but I’d also recommend previewing the opener “Les ruines du castel” to get a sense of Geisterfels‘ sound.
|Released||November 3, 2017|
|BUY/LISTEN on Geisterfels’ Bandcamp!||Follow Geisterfels on Facebook|
Melodic Black Metal
À l’oeuvre on connait l’artisan. 4.0/5.0
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