(CD/LP, Kunsthall Produktionen, 2020)
For some reason, I find myself gravitating towards Black Metal albums for my listening pleasure during summer. Black Metal has a unique way of reminding me what I love about winter and how comforting is watching the snow falling as nature enters hibernation. Or it may as well be just the needed smack-in-the-face to snap out of midsummer’s heat... Whatever the case, it has become an unofficial tradition for me that I really enjoy. So, this late June found me going through vinyl records and digi-promos in search of a powerful cold / desolate / dark album. And lo and behold, Swiss Wintherr’s upcoming release under the PAYSAGE D'HIVER moniker, titled “Im Wald” (“In The Forest”), came at the right time (and season) for me...
...and for all the Wintherr followers who had been waiting for almost seven years for new music from PAYSAGE D'HIVER (please keep in mind that this is an underground project with ten demos and several splits under its belt during the 20-plus years of existence). With two hours (!) of playing time, “Im Wald” is not only PAYSAGE D'HIVER’s longest effort so far, but also a new chapter in the winter travel theme that runs through its entire work. The windy, icy-cold 25-second intro, “Im Winterwald”, opens the album and sets the mood right from the start before passing the baton to the screeching guitars and merciless blast-beats that are the ideal setting for Wintherr’s desperate screaming. It sounds that this is Black Metal 101, additionally enhanced with tons of layers of synth sounds that create a truly mesmerizing atmosphere, as intended by Wintherr. Primitive Black Metal strongly relies on raw productions, and in this case, “Im Wald” unfolds its raw power, and track-by-track you’ll find yourself magnetized by the sound of reverbed drums and vocals that shine on the background topping off that desired ambience. The sounds of walking-on-snow and the repetitive windy theme at the beginning of every track create the illusion of traveling, and go hand-in-hand with the unpolished sound, as if you’re trying to see through a frosted window. This is why music is the greatest thing in the world creating emotions, building illusions, setting the listener’s mind on an unforgettable trip, without moving a single muscle.
I really love the cold-beauty in “Ueber Den Baeumen” underlined with beautiful melodic guitar breaks, the BM epicness of “Stimmen Im Wald” that brings to mind Vikernes’ “A Lost Forgotten Sad Spirit”, and the echo-y combination of guitar and keyboards tones on “Flug”, triggering that oneiric feeling... The use of short interludes, like in “Schneeglitzern”, “Wurzel”, “Eulengesang” and “Verweilen” (ok, anything below five minutes is considered ‘short’ here) is quite genius, creating a winter ambience with eerie, repetitive guitars and mesmerizing synths. There are times while listening to these tracks, you will feel almost like fighting a snowstorm. Need I say more?
“Im Wald” is the epitome of atmospheric Black Metal with deep roots in the ‘90s BM sound and beyond a shadow of a doubt will enchant even the most elitist ‘fan’ of the genre. At last, winter has come - embrace it HERE.
01. Im Winterwald
02. Ueber Den Baeumen
06. Stimmen Im Wald
08. Le Rêve Lucide
12. Weiter, Immer Weiter
13. So Hallt Es Wider
Wintherr (Tobias Möckl) - Vocals, All Instruments