"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Germ - "Loss" (CD/EP)

Germ - "Loss" CD/EP cover image

"Loss" track listing:

1. My Only Hope (3:01)
2. So Lonely, Dead Lonely (10:55)
3. Only When Every Timepiece In The World Is Smashed Part I (7:15)
4. Only When Every Timepiece In The World Is Smashed Part II (2:59)
5. Cold Grey Dawn (A New Beginning) (5:31)
6. Loss (5:04)

Reviewed by on October 8, 2012

"If David Bowie decided to do an album with Burzum, while both were under the influence of LSD, the end result would likely be something like 'Loss.'"

Just when it seemed like it had all be heard before, and when dime-a-dozen mallcore bands are littering the musical landscape, something truly unique has now come along to shake up the metal scene. There’s a reason why metal heads cling so tightly to the underground, and Germ’s new EP “Loss” is absolutely it. Innovation and quality might have stagnated out there in the mainstream, but the unknown metal heroes are still managing to come up with awe-inspiring music that isn’t ever going to be heard on the radio. The band nobody has ever heard of is officially dropping one of the best releases of the year, and it isn’t even a full-length album!

In many ways a musical continuation of the previous album “Wish,” this new sonic journey from Germ turns the focus away from the cosmic themes and towards something more suitably depressing for what is – at its core anyway – a black metal band. Opening track “My Only Hope” doesn’t betray that core until halfway through, beginning with an emotional bout of clean singing, piano, and an atmosphere that isn’t likely to be heard on any other metal disc. The expected extreme explosion does come, but in a totally unexpected way that is head and shoulders above the competition. When the ‘80s style synthesizers make their debut as a major driving force of the music, it becomes clear that the term “progressive” actually deserves to be used here (Opeth, eat your heart out!).

While the album has clear inspirations from ‘80s rock with those crazy electronic keyboards, none of that comes at the expense of the abrasive and utterly underground nature of the music. These black metal shrieks put many others to shame and are bizarre even by extreme music’s standards. While other bands have pig squeals or demon grunts or unholy screams, I get the feeling that this is possibly what radiation emanating throughout the galaxy, as stars collapse in on themselves, sounds like.

The extreme vocals are the only potential downside to this stellar release, as they are definitely an acquired taste. While they work for this reviewer, it’s conceivable that fans of even the most hardcore bands out there will be put off by the shrieks at first listen – and that’s quite a feat. As with most of the music, the vocals don’t stay at just one setting, however. Two or three different styles of clean singing are also utilized throughout the EP that take elements from the mainstream and twist and distort them for Germ’s own nefarious purposes. Fans of the singing on the Thomas Giles (from Between the Buried and Me) solo album will dig the vocal performances here.

“Loss” has got to be one of the most inventive and unexpected collisions of genres in recent metal history. It’s definitely about what the title would suggest, but the music is weirdly uplifting and surprisingly emotional, while also being avant-garde black metal to destroy your soul. In typically bizarre Germ fashion, the most menacing and downtrodden track on the album is the all-piano ending title track. If David Bowie decided to do an album with Burzum, while both were under the influence of LSD, the end result would likely be something like “Loss.” This one’s going to strongly appeal to fans of the insanity of Devin Townsend who want the black metal cred of Peccatum to boot.

Highs: Fantastic clean vocals, great mix-up of differing styles, and a surprising amount of emotional depth.

Lows: The harsh vocals are an acquired taste, and a few segments do sound overly similar to the last album.

Bottom line: An avant-garde mashup of mainstream elements with a seriously underground flavor that's a must-hear for fans of the progressive and weirder sides of black metal.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)