WUODAN’S WUNDE – Es Glimmt Empor Aus Ewger Nacht (2023)REVIEW

Now, Earth, drink your fill. — After three beheadings by three different swords and the complete obliteration of a fabled army The Nibelungenlied ends as even more of a complete tragedy on all sides than’d been foreshadowed. In fact if you’d experienced the paraphrased yet still four and a half hour long saga in the form of quintessential filmmaker Fritz Lang‘s take on this infamous prose edda, the two-film epic Die Nibelungen (1924), you’ll recall the conclusion of each film more damned and distraught than the last. Prophecies of doom lay draped over these great works as a point of sustained tone, a glowing and magical world which couldn’t be contained in summary or fable which is not at all afraid to remind the listener of the follies available to both gods and men: Romance, power, greed, and revenge. Inspired yet perhaps nowhere near as ambitious just yet, Austrian dungeon synth/ambient black metal solo project Wuodan’s Wunde attempts to create their own cinematic score to a similarly imagined world on their debut full-length album, ‘Es Glimmt Empor Aus Ewger Nacht‘. That isn’t to say that they’ve composed an epic score so much as a set of mood pieces which invoke the wonder of grainy, black-and-white high fantasy realms of tragedian fate with some appreciable success herein.

Acting within several long-standing traditions of dungeon synth, atmospheric black metal and the more modern touch of computer-aided lo-fi “raw” black metal most of what this artist does that is “metal”-adjacent finds it’s intrigue within obfuscation rather than outright tunefulness or legibility. Don’t go in expecting the cartoonish raw’d up loudness of Old Nick or even the aimless Carnivale of Trhä, but rather something entirely contained within its atmospheric friction. The same cannot be said of the dungeon/fantasy synth progressions and vignettes which direct the bulk of the experience, these are often bold enough, droning in their direction of tonally dark, mysterious, tragic and typically nostalgic statements. We’re not exactly getting the olden endless marches across the bridge per Summoning, either, but something similarly consistent in its tuneful, occasionally charming persistence.

Upwards from the eternal night. — From my point of view, ‘Es Glimmt Empor Aus Ewger Nacht‘ is given no real favor or reasonable point of personality by persisting with such a lo-fi black metal sound. The bursts of black metal drumming are buried so far in the background that they act as crescendo more than spine, rarely paired with intelligible guitar work and typically acting as a foil for melodramatic narrative from the vocals which are in fact even more buried in the murk. When all is positioned at such a great artificial distance an appeal is made to the listener’s immersive focus yet the best work done on the part of Wuodan’s Wunde herein is in the realm medieval ambiance and synthesizer-directed melodicism. The composer is perhaps using a muddled and unnecessarily crackling medium to pull black metal ears in, to lend some tumult and nuance to the experience, yet there is no real argument to be made for the vocals or the black metal elements outside of providing uneven waves for each mythopoetic musing.

“II” is the piece to really stretch the value of a certain synth ditty to its limit as motif while also showcasing the kind of cursory nature of the black metal side of their sound. These things work well enough together and captivate in the moment but do not ultimately feel profound beyond their atmospheric clashing. On the other hand “IV” gets this combination almost exactly right, artfully dipping into its lo-fi black metal charm for a complete song-worthy statement while sustaining the dungeon synth bones otherwise. Thought I might not find the fusion at hand exactly perfect across the board ‘Es Glimmt Empor Aus Ewger Nacht‘ does in fact generate a palpable sense of atmosphere which is fittingly cinematic, especially as they head from “I” leading into “II” to start the album, flinging about some impressive layers of grainy yet ethereally glowing atmosphere, which also reprises at the start of album closer “V”.

There is some impressive continuity available to the listening experience, some decent ear-worming synth progressions to get stuck in mind, and plenty of notably layered moments where Wuodan’s Wunde‘s sound design peaks in an appreciable way yet the full listen of ‘Es Glimmt Empor Aus Ewger Nacht‘ ultimately landed upon me as a tragic mumble more than it did a sojourn into a new realm. There is yet something special, ambitious and already well-formed here that likely speaks to the experience and fortitude of the artist which bodes well as they hopefully press on with this sound and idea. For my own taste the lo-fi veil may not add much to the music itself, but no doubt fans of blackened crumbling empire synth will be beyond pleased by the consistent mood, or, tone of the full listen. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (75/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Es Glimmt Empor Aus Ewger Nacht
LABEL(S):Altare Productions
RELEASE DATE:January 16th, 2023

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