Creation of the universe, the suffering due man’s true nature, the threat of instant death, a jilted carrier of the slain, the afterlife itself, and the very fury that would whirl the torture of existence endlessly in this maddening cycle all offer some mildly ruminant conceptual takeaways from this fine and decidedly more ‘traditional’ work from Koblenz, Germany stationed black metal band Porta Nigra. Woven of cosmic threads shorn from members of Membaris, Chaos Invocation, and my favorite era of Obscure Infinity these fellowes are best known for thier own take on the historically avant-garde traditions of German black metal style, which’d left a dent in the first half of the last decade starting with their expressive, notable debut (‘Fin de siècle‘, 2012). With each release since they’ve cast aside a complete and transparent shell of their former selves, first aiming for a more dogged bark of madness (‘Kaiserschnitt‘, 2015) and now reemerging from a five year dormancy with a new voice and channeling the purest essence of black metal inspiration one could imagine Porta Nigra might manage.
Abruptly portrayed and neatly arranged into a vortex of fluidic and passionately drilled black metal, ‘Schöpfungswut’ offers the gnarled, multi-directional gloom of modern melodic black metal embittered by traditional feats of inspiration. In leaving behind the coiling quirk of their past a second time Porta Nigra grow outwardly resonant, penetrable for the sake of delivering an inspired, ‘felt’ album that streams downward in glorious manner. For the sake of policing the new, the old, the borrowed and the ingenious you’ll not hear anything so massively avant-garde from ‘Schöpfungswut’ beyond Tongue‘s (Chaos Invocation, Crescent, Ave Maria) vocal performances which range from a deathly von Meilenwald-esque harshness and a reasonable range of German dark/black metal hybridized voicing throughout; Moaning, chanting, ranting, breathing, rasping, and all manner of raving lunacy from the artist is perhaps more remarkably varied and interesting than it’ll appear with a cursory listen, since the guitars are mixed into dominance within the forward surround as the vocals growl and emit their freakery atop the experience.
The ‘traditionally influenced’ black metal music of ‘Schöpfungswut’ itself is what I’d consider a slightly modern vision of melodic black metal, riffs unleashed wholly capable of some considerable pure heavy metal spirit but also prone to some atmospheric black metal rants that’d fit in Bergen or Paris circa 1994 just as well as they do in the globalized soma of today. The madness of Urarv, the snaking heft of earlier Den Saakaldte, and a hit of Nagelfar circa ‘Hünengrab im Herbst’ should be reasonable enough references for expressive melodic voice and pacing throughout this Porta Nigra album — A wild bout of change considering ‘Kaiserschnitt’ was an odd chugging beast a few generations removed from Bethlehem. ‘Schöpfungswut’ is undoubtedly a great showing of classic influence and modern personality from an unexpected place though it can be easy to get too caught up int he beauteous nature of the guitar work and begin to find some of the most esoteric flourishes somewhat grating, such as the belligerent groaning at the end of “Die Kosmiker”.
What cemented this third Porta Nigra album as a notable early January release for 2020 was surely its mature and transporting melodic sense. As much as I hate the suggestion of a ‘journey’ within an ornate extreme metal album there are moments of running, driving tremolo-drilled black metal coursing through much of ‘Schöpfungswut’ that halt into tarantellas of riffs that don’t directly pull from the great libraries of Swedish and Norwegian melodic ideas but do consider each core modus for their own twisting, emotionally leaden forms. None of this is groundbreaking from an objective point of view and certainly not alien when considering the greater history of German black metal was largely built upon those old structures but, there is still much to be gained from soaking in the fluid directionality of these plainly classic guitar techniques thanks to consistently thoughtful arrangements on the part of Porta Nigra‘s Gilles de Rais who has long served as chief songwriter for the project. This is the heart of what appeals to be about the full listen, those engaging swells of riff that serve as movement upon a complete spin of the experience. Comfortably traditional and yet entirely unsettling for its own points of unique personality, a moderately high recommendation is due for ‘Schöpfungswut’.
Moderately high recommendation. 3.75/5.0
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