Monday, 2 August 2010

Odium Immortalis - Die Schönheit der Einsamkeit (2004) 54/100.

Germany probably has the best reputation in the world when it comes to producing quality depressive black metal bands, which this is, even though the description would say otherwise, so given my huge interest in the scene of this sub-genre, I was excited to discover another one of Germany’s many artists in this field, Odium Immortalis, which is Latin for Immortal Hate. The band come attached with a mixed reputation after their numerous splits and earliest demo were met with mixed receptions, as far as I can tell, though I’ve not read much in the way of critique in regards to their 2004 debut full-length, ‘Die Schönheit der Einsamkeit’. Since then, the threesome have largely disappeared from the black metal scene and Metal Archives currently suggests that their status is unknown at the moment. One thing I recently also noticed was an association to Basarab, a band I heard many, many years ago and downright loathed. If I had known that was the case when I first discovered this band, I probably would have saved myself the bother and not listened to them at all.

However, I didn’t know and I’ve actually listened to this album a number of times because, although it is mostly mediocre and the vocals are second rate black metal rasps akin to those of Happy Days and numerous other depressive black metal bands trying to punch above their weight in the limelight, there are some flashes of brilliance every now and then which Basarab were just not capable of showing. Fabian, who provides some form of vocals here, also plays guitar for Basarab, so I wasn’t expecting much in the way of memorable riffs, though the album does occasionally showcase a few glimpses of talent here and there. Opening with what appears to be a sample of someone playing a melancholy piece on the piano, though this could be produced by one of the Odium Immortalis band members, though I somehow doubt they’re capable of producing something so heart achingly beautiful, the band signal their intentions to produce something which isn’t standardised on every level.

First impressions being important is nothing new and Odium Immortalis make a good first impression with their introductory song, though it isn’t capable of indicating to the first-timer what is to come. The band don’t rely entirely on depressive techniques, occasionally moving out and into the melodic sub-genre of black metal. With songs like ‘Herdentier Mensch’, the German threesome show they’re obviously capable of writing more unique structures into their songs, but all too often they rely on mediocre tremolo riffs with a distorted texture akin to bands like Lycanthropy’s Spell, awfully produced variations of screams and rasps, whilst occasionally using deep growls. The heavy emphasis of repetitious black metal is where the band come undone. There are brief moments in most of the songs when they’ll show more originality by allowing the bass to lead alongside clean guitars and even clean vocals, but these are sparse elements of otherwise generic, standardised black metal songs.

The production also hampers the affair. It isn’t quite as bad as that on Lycanthropy’s Spell, but the production certainly doesn’t give the few solos that appear on songs like ‘Herdentier Mensch’ any distinguishing qualities. The solos tend to fall away into the background amidst the density of the production and the overly repetitious nature of the bass, percussion and distorted guitars. The vocals, too, are overbearing. I imagine one of the two vocalists provides the high-pitched rasps, whilst the other supplies the clean spoken parts. It is in the latter that we find some originality, though this is also a sparse element of the individual songs and the album in general. The light acoustics are a nice touch, but they’re not enough to burn the traces of mediocrity found in the horrible rasped vocals which are evidently produced with poor recording equipment. They’re too scratchy and in no way emotional enough. They work alongside the heavily repetitious parts simply because these sections, which appear more often than not, are also tied down by tedium and a sense of mediocrity.

Latter songs on the album, like ‘Was bleibt…’ are prime examples of when the good work meets the horrid, second rate depressive material which has been done a million times better by fellow German bands, particularly Nargaroth. ‘Was bleibt…’ does, in fact, sound like it could have been on one of the earliest Nargaroth albums, if it had been produced better, the guitars been stronger in their assertion of all things depressive and had the vocals infinitely improved. The album is also far too long. Odium Immortalis don’t have the charisma to hold my attention for sustained periods of time. I find myself having to come back to parts to listen to them again because I got sidetracked. The songs are too repetitive and not memorable enough to require eight, or nine, or even ten minutes of time to expand because they don’t expand. They stay the same all the way through whilst occasionally altering the atmosphere by inserting clean vocals here, and acoustics there, but it never feels like it’s enough to make any lasting impression. Expand and evolve around the idea of using acoustics, the occasional piano segment as in the self-titled song, don’t just rely on tedious repetitive chords and terrible vocals. A difficult listen given how generic it can be at times.

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