Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wedard - Eiskrieg [EP]


This was my first Wedard record. I think I first came across this during the 2010-2011 winter season. Since then, and the release of the Eiskrieg II EP, Wedard’s auditory beauty has continued to grow on me with every listen. This German duet has a discography made up of splits, demos, EPs, and full-lengths that covers nearly a decade of true depressive black metal. Although Wedard is one of the slightly-bigger acts amongst the depressive black metal scene, there isn’t very much background information or other topics that they have for people to discuss and say about them. Wedard owes much of their minimal success to the praise that numerous other like-minded artists have given them. Nocturnal Depression, Woods of Desolation, Xasthur, Elffor, Striborg, and Anti are among the many depressive black metal artists that have given Wedard praise over the years; a few of them even doing split records with Wedard. But despite all that, Wedard’s reputation among the non-musicians has remained minimal. Anti and Striborg have both named the two Eiskrieg EPs to be Wedard’s best releases. I can’t say whether I can agree to those statements or not because I haven’t heard Wedard’s entire discography yet.

The one thing that (for some unknown, but probably ridiculous reason) many depressive black metal artists choose to do that just absolutely fucking KILLS their music is that infamous vocal style where it sounds like a high-pitched “woooo”. Ok, I have no idea why the fuck someone would want to do that, let alone turn it up to the point where it’s obnoxiously loud, but for some reason it’s become fairly common. There are some artists that have done this where it doesn’t bother me (Suicidal Anorexia, Life is Pain, Starless Night). This is because they either push it far in the background or they put some kind of distortion or effect on it; and to be honest, if done right, it has potential of sounding really cool. Wedard, on the other hand, doesn’t do that. Let me rephrase that: Wedard does something that could be considered similar to that, but nowhere near as annoying and disturbing. The vocals have A LOT of reverb, they’re pushed in the background behind the guitars and drums, and they’re much more high-pitched than, let’s say, the vocals you’ll hear on a Happy Days album. In the case of this EP, the vocals sound best when they’re let out during the most agonizing and melodic parts of the music. But there are some instances where the music is going at a much steadier and faster pace and the vocals don’t quite fit in as perfectly as they do in the melodic parts.

Drumming on this album is far from being an issue. Not only does the drummer show that he knows how to do more than one thing, he also shows real instrumental skill. Here’s ANOTHER thing that can get pretty damn irritating for me in depressive black metal, and that’s if the drummer does THE EXACT SAME FUCKING THING for the ENRIE duration of the record. I mean seriously, doesn’t that get even a LITTLE boring for you? Wouldn’t you feel much more engaged if you played more than just a boring blast beat or whatever simple drum pattern you’re doing?? The drummer, going under the stage name Karmageddeon, lays out a generic, but very well-practiced blast beat in all of the songs. On top of that, he shows his ability (I don’t even know if it’s a guy or not) to always stay on-tempo, use his whole drum set, change the pattern and speed every time the song goes into a different movement, and even kick drum with considerable speed throughout the EP. The third track of the album (also the title track) is where I consider the drummer to be at his best, although the last song is also great (I’ll talk about that later on).

In depressive black metal, the guitars are the absolute most important part. In order to create the right atmosphere, vibe and sound that you want, since there’s typically the absence of a bass guitar, the guitar player NEEDS to make sure that the distortion, the tuning, and what’s being played is spot-on. I’ve noticed that if there’s even one little mistake being made, like if the guitar distortion is a little too soft, or if the guitars are a little too loud, or if there’s a little too much reverb, it can make a HUGE difference. It’s sort of like looking at something really closely under a microscope; if you make even the SMALLEST adjustments, it can fuck you over and completely ruin or lose what you’re trying to see. Since depressive black metal is less complex and there aren’t nearly as many instruments, everything needs to be as perfect as can be. This was why Scott Connor’s project, Xasthur, was so damn successful and lasted for so long, because he was a damn perfectionist and always knew that every single alteration and change that was done needed to be exact and precise, or else it’ll completely change the sound of everything.

My favorite song off the album is, without a doubt, the last track, A Desolate Song for Desolate Hearts. For the few that I know of that actually have this record, this song is often overlooked due to it being more than five minutes shorter than all the other songs. The slower tempo and extremely melodic guitar solos create a tranquilizing ambient sound that doesn’t even compare to the other songs off the record. The guitarist shows expresses emotion as well as skill in the solo that pretty much lasts the whole track. Not only that, but the drummer throws in these really fast fills that seem random, but fit since they don’t stick out from everything else. The muffled pianos that take up the last half of the song leave the listener absolutely relaxed and ends the EP with the perfect vibe. This piano part proves that this EP was intentionally created to be listened to from start-to-finish, not just for individual songs; because it won’t have the same effect.

Being part-1 of the Eiskrieg EP series, Wedard has obviously crafted a work of art that, like Striborg said, deserves to be recognized. Having everything working for the duet in a positive way, Wedard avoids all of the extremely annoying and negative trends that depressive black metal artists (for some odd fucking reason) like to do. As well as that, Wedard repeatedly expresses their instrumental skill to set themselves apart from many others in their genre that have only their creativity to work with. I would give the Eiskrieg EP a score of 16/20. What I’m mainly going to be looking for in Eiskrieg II is more musical creativity, less monotony, and more unique elements.