Waldgeflüster – Unter bronzenen Kronen
Release date: 29 September (AOP Records)
By Jools Green
Following on from the successes of their 2021 studio full length Dahoam, German Black Metallers Waldgeflüster are back with a four track, twenty-eight-minute, special mini-album, a collection of autumnal songs, consisting of three reimagined pieces that include two covers, and a reworking of one of their own tracks alongside a new piece.
About this collection the band comment that it is “a heartfelt compilation of songs to accompany the embrace of Autumn. This collection, although not a full-length album, tries to capture the essence of the season when the leaves turn into shimmering hues of bronze, gold, and red. A sonic reflection of the bittersweet melancholy that seeps into our bones and hearts during this time.”
Unter bronzenen Kronen continues to immerse the listener in Waldgeflüster’s world of melancholy, opening on the title track and new composition Unter bronzenen Kronen is an eight minute offering which delves into the realization that “our own questions, flaws, and enigmatic uncertainties endlessly circle back to us, leaving an eternal imprint upon our hearts”, an understatedly powerful and moving piece that is dominated by a repeating, haunting and undulating blackened melody topped with tortuous screaming vocals, but after a drop in pace just after midway the vocals become clean and the melody takes on a more reflective feel, you can’t fail to be moved by it.
The second track The Pit, is a cover of a track originally by Austin Lunn’s one-man Atmospheric Black/Folk Metal project Panopticon, on which the cello is written and performed by Nostarion of Atmospheric Black/Doom Metallers Dämmerfarben, who also performed on this new version. I love Waldgeflüster’s reimagining of this piece, vocally Winterherz has kept some of the folky feel of the original in his haunting cleans but you also get tortuous screams too and the driving black wall of riffs that course beneath the vocals add a superb sense of darkness and despair to the very bleak and powerful lyrics and the cello is suitably rawer here also.
The next piece Herbst befiel das Land MMXXIII (Autumn invaded the land) originally featured on Waldgeflüster’s 2009 debut full length Herbstklagen, the original is a little darker and more driving with a predominance of raw acidic vocals with some clean acoustic guitar work but becoming more brutal and crushing as it progresses with some clean singing in the second half, in comparison, this new version is shorter by a minute and a half and dispenses with the soundbite of howling winds alongside haunting flute and acoustic guitar on the intro of the original, there’s a greater quantity of cleaner vocals particularly to start, although there are some passages of raw acidic vocals further into the track you get, overall, this version is vocally more varied but it follows the path of the original, also becoming darker and more crushing as it progresses to almost oppressive proportions, the main obvious difference on the new version being the wider range of contrast between the harsher and reflective elements, not just the vocals, so, which version do I prefer? I’m going to sit on the fence and say both, there is certainly room in my life for both versions, they both have their own individual merits and qualities and both are powerful, moving and superb pieces in their own right.
The final piece Black Flies is a cover of a track by English singer-songwriter Ben Howard from his 2011 Every Kingdom album, who explained the song’s meaning in an interview as being “about someone I don’t really speak to anymore. It’s an observational song about the changes in the year. It’s not about romance as a few people have suggested.” Waldgeflüster’s version is far removed from the clean reflective original, it grabs you by the throat, commands and gets your attention, the blackened riffing and harsh vocals add depth and drama to the piece and I love it, it still reflects much of the original too, although Ben Howard fans might find this version a bit of a culture shock.
So, journey with Waldgeflüster as they invite the listener to “tread alongside them through the bleakness of their everlasting woods, to find solace and respite, resting your weary heads beneath the majestic crowns of bronze that adorn these trees.” It’s a bleak, melancholic but beautiful listen.
Unter bronzenen Kronen will be available as a CD and 12″ vinyl formats from Unter bronzenen Kronen | Waldgeflüster (bandcamp.com)
“Unter bronzenen Kronen” – Official Track Stream: