Originally written by Erik Thomas
I’ve been curiously entertained by some US black metal of late, as Forest of Impaled, Fall of the Bastards and Veneficum have delivered some material worthy of their European counterparts in all aspects and sub ‘genrefictations’. So enter Krieg with a conceptual blast of Northern grimness and classic ‘Kult’ black metal in the vein of Darkthrone and Nattens Madrigal era Ulver. So folks, by default it’s not really my thing.
Sparsely produced and suitably singular in its pacing, The Black House is barren and a wasteland of ravishing evil, that certainly slides easily into the spiked boot of the genre, but offers nothing remotely entertaining to me, even if trying to recognize high points within the style as I absorb its ‘troo’ spirit. Even die hard fans of this style of stripped down savagery will no doubt become bored by the continual ‘tappety tap’ drums of Thron and the way to high in the mix banshee screams and growls of main man Imperial. Even rare slowdowns and attempts at anguished atmospherics (“Fallen Princes of Sightless Vision”), are moodless and flat, and this from of an album supposedly based on one mans (Imperial’s) personal torment.
The note progression of the riffs is rudimentary and a little too familiar if you own anything by their obvious peers, essentially tremolo picks and staccato overload, but lacking any real sense of caustic edge or evil grandiosity. As expected, the production hinders and sucks the life out of any worthwhile riffs, as evident on “Sickening Voices without Speech”, with a promising groove rendered flatter than Calista Flockheart’s chest. But the appeal to fans is that stark sound, so if that’s your thing, this is for you. On a positive note, Imperial, while too high in the mix has a great range of suitably spooky screams and growls that are certainly more indicative of his personal hell, even if the music is more akin to a long train ride. “…without Light”, again tries to be slower and moodier in the vein of Forgotten Tomb, and succeeds somewhat with a painfully drawn out pace.
Throw in a cover of Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs”, (vehemently justified by Imperial in the linear notes), and the end result is an album most black metal fans could really go without owning despite the grimness that permeates every facet of the album.