I must confess I am not well versed in Krieg‘s back catalogue, being more familiar with Neil Jameson’s work with Twilight. I enjoyed The Black House but I haven’t listened to it in years. However, Krieg is a key USBM band that stands alongside the likes of Leviathan, Mutiilation, and Nachtmystium in terms of importance as well as style. Of course, this album also comes at an important moment during the Jameson’s relationship with Blake Judd of Nachtmystium, and whatever it might mean for metal fans who have been following the turmoil, this album is a success.

True to the meaning of their name, Krieg presents some warlike stomping black metal, but underneath the raw, aggressive sound, melodies surface that lend a melancholy vibe. Most prominent of these is “Walk with Them Unnoticed” which stands out as a midpaced, very melodic, melancholy black metal piece more along the lines of something Totalselfhatred might do. But by and large, the metal here is raw, aggressive, and primal, marked by a deep strain of misanthropy.

There is a lot of variation in tempo, which helps to break things up. “Circling the Drain” features the d-beat but manages not to sound very crusty. “To Speak with Ghosts” begins darkly and mysteriously, leading into a slow, deliberate riff, which gives way to mid-paced black metal along the lines of Urgehal or Craft. The changes work in tandem with the direction of the songs. The blasting of “Atlas with a Broken Arm” gives way to an emotional melodic touch at the very end, and “Time” breaks halfway through into a rollicking triple meter like you’re on a rollercoaster in hell. The yelling and primal drums that alternate with blastbeats in “Winter” are memorable. “Ruin Our Lives” features some subtle electronics – not keyboards, but noises – in its middle section. They continue into “Home,” which is a spoken-word sample and some acoustic guitar, before returning conclusively to blasts in the final track, “Gospel Hand.” The sample in “Home” is kind of a weird inclusion, and stops the momentum. It’s off-putting for me, and may also be for other listeners, but for an album with so few missteps, it’s excusable.

All in all, there’s nothing that new or unusual going on here, but it doesn’t feel like there needs to be. It’s not as violent or bleak as something like Bastard Feast, but it’s pretty powerful in its own right. Where it lacks vitriol, it injects a touch of melancholy. There are different ways to take your nihilism; Krieg expresses it with a sense of mourning for what’s been lost.

I read in an article by written by Jameson that a crazed Judd, in order to get him to try heroine, said that he needed more tragedy in his life. Judging by the music here, Jameson has plenty of inspiration to draw from already. This feels surprisingly fresh, and the many creative flourishes integrate seamlessly. This is a true-to-form work by one of the key longer-running US black metal acts. It demonstrates a focus and restrained creativity that is the mark of a mature band.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J. D. Anderson
October 2nd, 2014


  1. Commented by: thatguy

    Mutiilation is not american and I’d say you should remove nachtmystium and replace them with Judas Iscariot when referencing that particular subgenre of black metal . Also xasthur obviously.

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