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Todtgelichter - "Apnoe" (CD)

Todtgelichter - "Apnoe" CD cover image

"Apnoe" track listing:

1. Embers (7:28)
2. Lights of Highways (5:42)
3. Beyond Silence (5:46)
4. Kollision (3:46)
5. Tiefer Fall (4:54)
6. Expectations (4:24)
7. Soil (5:59)
8. Torn (6:14)
9. Until it all Begins (4:50)
10. Odem (3:41)

Reviewed by on May 11, 2013

"A surprisingly calm album from a black metal band, 'Apnoe' works all angles and is equally comfortable in full atmospheric territory as it is in the hellish blackened metal realm."

Experimental without losing focus, and avant-garde without becoming bizarre, Todtgelichter defies both expectations and genre conventions. A surprisingly calm album from a black metal band, “Apnoe” works all angles and is equally comfortable in full atmospheric territory as it is in the hellish blackened metal realm.

While definitely a progressive and atmospheric album, this fourth full-length from Todtgelichter retains a sense of heaviness throughout. There may be loads of clean singing (both male and female), but the tracks don’t completely skimp on the harsh growls. Precisely what genre this all lands in is pretty up in the air. The tracks are more avant-garde than you’d hear from the average metal band, but the music doesn’t descend into outright wackiness like you’d hear from say Sigh or Unexpect. While not exactly a “gothic” album either, the release does tend to a have a downer, melancholy vibe.

There’s a good deal of variety across the disc, like “Tiefer Fall” switching completely away from English for an interesting change of pace. The string instruments and throaty female singing combo on “Soil” is one of the more odd but compelling moments on the disc, definitely playing with a variety of non-metal styles within a metal format. “Until It All Begins” is almost on the lounge music side – you can picture a girl in a dress laying across a piano in a haze of smoke – but it’s a bit too slow moving to be fully effective in this type of music. Likewise, the entirely atmospheric and spacey “Kollision” is a bit overlong, as it drags down the surrounding music over repeat listens. The album then ends on a much more blackened and heavy note with the full-force “Torn.”

Direct comparisons to other bands are difficult to make due to the unique mixing of sounds here. Fans of Katatonia will probably dig the overall sound, but it’s both heavier and more dynamic than recent output from that band. The emotional aspects of Anathema are echoed here, but again, the music is much harsher overall and doesn’t totally ditch the screams. Overall, these ten tracks of post-metal will have a strong appeal for anyone who likes a good mix of harsh and soft, or for fans of those metal bands that have tempered their heaviness over the years.

Highs: Effectively plays with different styles and has a unique way of building up to crescendos of music, before working back down into fully atmospheric music.

Lows: Some of the tracks are a bit too slow or laid back to be fully engaging.

Bottom line: Todtgelichter takes an atmospheric and avant-garde approach to black metal for a surprisingly calm ride on this latest album.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)