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Vinterriket - "Horizontmelancholie " (CD)

Vinterriket - "Horizontmelancholie " CD cover image

"Horizontmelancholie " track listing:

1. Schattengeräusche (5:03)
2. Durch die Weiten der Landschaft (8:21)
3. Herbstreich (8:40)
4. Irrlichterscheinung (8:44)
5. Bergtal (8:16)
6. Wogen des Firmamentes (8:42)
7. Waldkult (8:18)

Reviewed by on December 16, 2009

"...Vinterriket’s latest full-length, 'Horizontmelancholie,' is a dismal, brooding album chock full of atmosphere and musical artistry."

Being just one of the many one-man projects of Christoph Ziegler and boasting over fifty releases in only nine years, Vinterriket’s latest full-length, “Horizontmelancholie,” is a dismal, brooding album chock full of atmosphere and musical artistry. Not to be classified as heavy, this album is a must for fans who love dark, emotional music.

The album’s opening song, “Schattengerausche,” is very ambient and gloomy, foreshadowing the darkness that the album presents throughout. The music consists of a lot of synth, which may be too much for some people. There were parts where I thought the synth was too prominent, but one must remember that it plays a key role in the mood of the music and is, at times, extremely effective and downright haunting. There is also some minimal wind instrumentation involved. The drums are basic, but they get the job done. The choral, male vocals almost sound like Pete Steele crooning in German.

But above all, the most interesting and crucial part of the music is the acoustic guitar work. Without it, a lot of the album would be little more than wispy synth effects. While kept dark throughout, the guitar work adds an almost folksy feel to the music and is very well placed throughout the album. Right when the songs are at their darkest and most ambient, the guitar kicks in to break up the shadows.

Each track on this album is long and slow; only the first song is less than eight minutes. This album’s main draw is the fact that each song has its own distinguishing elements and the tracks don’t do much running together, as releases like this tend to. The acoustic work is especially what keeps this release from becoming so redundant as to be unlistenable.

“Herbstreich” utilizes some higher notes that punctuate the darkness, but create a more hopeful sound among the hopeless atmosphere. Along with “Bergtal,” it is probably the most upbeat song on the album (which still is not very upbeat at all).

Though Ziegler manages to keep the music differentiated throughout the album, it isn’t completely free from the virus of repetitiveness. About the time the album hits “Bergtal,” the synth starts to become very similar sounding and even the acoustic work I like so much tends to sound the same from song to song. This certainly isn’t an album killer, but it still must be noted.

This is an album I would recommend to those who love their music dark and brooding, and would go so far to say that one who is interested in exploring the genre for the first time. “Horizontmelancholie” has atmosphere that is all-encompassing and doesn’t let up for the whole duration of the album. After so many releases in so short a time, I find it remarkable that Vinterriket can still pull off the dark ambient bit and not become wholly trite. This is, perhaps, Ziegler’s most mature effort.

Highs: Dark, brooding and powerful music.

Lows: Doesn't completely escape becoming repetitious.

Bottom line: Sprawling, dark album aptly fit for a black winter day.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

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)