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Krieg - "The Isolationist" (CD)

Krieg - "The Isolationist" CD cover image

"The Isolationist" track listing:

1. No Future
2. Photographs from an Asylum
3. All Paths to God
4. Ambergeist
5. Depakote
6. Religion III
7. Blue of Noon
8. Inhalation Decays
9. ...and the Stars Fell On
10. Remission
11. Dead Windows

Reviewed by on October 14, 2010

"Decent black metal tunes are abound on this release, like the standout 'All Paths to God,' but there are unfortunately a lack of distinguishing features between the songs."

For black metal purists, Krieg has long represented the classic, stark style that beckons back to the progenitors of the scene. Lead vocalist Lord Imperial has long credited Darkthrone and a whole host of other nihilistic black metal forefathers as influences. In many ways, Krieg embodies that early European black metal sound better than most of their U.S. contemporaries. Imperial does have quite the following in the black metal scene, having put out countless split EP's and material since the mid-nineties with a revolving door of different musicians.

"The Isolationist" concludes the four year gap since Imperial took some time off to inspire new material. The title pretty much embodies who he is; an existential loner who rips through many of the tenets of base humanity, war and the human quandary. Listening to the songs on the album, it seems apparent that Krieg have taken their music back to the more basic and primal level reminiscent of earlier material, like "The Black House." The cadence is fast and frenetic in tracks such as "Blue of Noon" and "Ambergeist," punctuated by the infernal screaming vocals. "Depakote" shows the side of Krieg when they throw more ambience into a song, with its haunting dissonant guitar melody. There is also the furious drumming on "Photographs from an Asylum" and the tempo changes of "Inhalation Decays" that make for good listening. I also like the relentless pounding of "Dead Windows," which is completely bestial black metal from the old school.

Decent black metal tunes are abound on this release, like the standout "All Paths to God," but there are unfortunately a lack of distinguishing features between the songs. Too many of the tracks sound similar and interchangeable, without memorable characteristics to stand out individually. A few of the songs were honestly hard to tell apart. There are instrumental fillers like "Religion III" that would do better if they were incorporated into some of the blander songs. Add to that a couple of instrumentals like "Remission" that plod along with aimless riffing that goes absolutely nowhere, and it all produces an album that has its good moments counterbalanced by too many spotty ones.

I had liked the direction Krieg took back in 2006 with their "Blue Miasma" release. Like this album, it was solid black metal, but went the extra mile with its killer atmospheric backdrop and great song templates such as "An Empty Room, a Forgotten Funeral." I had hoped that they would expand upon that path this time. While good, "The Isolationist" doesn't offer enough variety to make it a noteworthy release. It is, however, good in the context of decent black metal and will no doubt satisfy the core listeners of Krieg.

Highs: Purist black metal in all its rawness.

Lows: Too many songs that sound interchangeably alike.

Bottom line: A decent release that needs more variety to be memorable.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 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)