Panzerkreuzer
Aurora

Panzerkruezer’s Aurora deliver us crushing war inspired death metal ala Bolt Thrower, Just Before Dawn, or Hail of Bullets.  Based on the cover art alone there isn’t much question that, surprise, the drapes match the carpet.  The three piece are based in Dresden, Germany.  Dresden is infamous for having been leveled after what is likely the most thoroughly devastating bombing campaign by US and British forces at the tail end of World War II.  650,000 incediaries, 8,000 lbs of high explosives, and 4,000 lbs of bombs were used over a 12-14 hour long operation.  Modern casualty estimates are anywhere between 35,000-135,000.  German sources have made claims upwards of 450,000.  Incredibly stunning numbers for a 12-14 hour operation when you compare that Britain lost about 50,000 citizens over the entire war.  Casualties alone aren’t all that lend to infamy.  Controversy around the argument that Dresden was not a particularly strategic city to warrant such a concentrated bombardment, has persisted in historical analysis of the event.

 Aurora is not a concept album centered on Dresden, and the word Panzerkruezer translates to “Battleship”, so there’s no direct tie there either.  The album cover is in the style of Communist propaganda art, paired with some the song titles (“New Chelovek”, “Red Flame”) elude to a focus on the eastern front.  However, their residence in Dresden, filled with such violent history and psychic negativity, provides a great stage and creative license to produce a record of this style and theme.

The overall production has wide sound, with full pummeling lows, and blunt crunchy midrange tones.  Like a battleship sweeping the countless floating, face-down bodies of the dead to the left and right as it chugs through the shallow channel depths.  The drums are very open, and boomy, even the snare.  The bass is clean, round, and matches the low pound of the kick drums.  The single guitar has a great buzz but thicker and chunkier than much of the classic Swedish sound of Entombed or Hail of Bullets albums.  In fact, don’t expect the speedier parts found throughout those albums either.  Where the songs do pick up it’s more of a d-beat drive than sharp thrashy urgency.  Some songs even sink into the muddy ruins, having a doom feel and pace as in the second half of track “Total Denial” and most of closer “Armoured Fist”.  Mostly, Panzerkruezer maintains a steady, plodding, goose-stepped march from beginning to end.   Vocals are a low, commanding gargle of war time propaganda.  Like the plant manager of a munitions factory on the outskirts of Dresden, imploring employees, with strength-through-work motivational rambling, to continue working at full operational capacity.  Even as soundwaves of the frighteningly near bomb explosions disperse against the outer walls.

When it comes to song by song critique, strangely so, it’s the instrumental album break “Interludium” that I want to call attention to as an example of Aurora‘s strength.  We all know this worn and abused inclusion.  The lone acoustic instrumental flourish used in a wide variety of album or song structures either as intro or interlude.  Sometimes classical, sometimes a distinct reference to the ethnic folk style of the bands ancestry.  All too often filler, or boring self-indulgence.  Every genre of metal is plagued with this issue as far as my ears are concerned.  I’m not saying it’s bad in and of itself, just over-utilized and often woefully bland.  But “Interludium” succeeds in it’s intent.  Placed exactly in the middle to give the listener a reprieve; check.  Dark but pretty; check.  Musically interesting; not just a check, a big green “APPROVED FOR USE” ink stamp.  At 3:28 in length it doesn’t overstay nor wander aimlessly through the ancient evil woods (that’s what they usually are trying to conjure right?).  Thunder and rain open the piece with a minimal, classical style arrangement beginning about 30 seconds in.  At 1:20 it moves to a call and response sort of pluck to picking part.  Thunder and rain appear again blending quickly to a double tracked acoustic and electric rhythm that builds so very nicely to a more urgent and tangled strumming part before lapsing into the come-down.  I don’t know what to say other than it’s strong and interestingly played.  It sticks and I would consume an entire album worth of it.

I almost feel that last paragraph was an interlude to this entire review so lets dive back into the metal.  Does this record have groove?  No mid-size European city can handle groove with this size blast radius!  Opening song “New Chelovek” pulls you into it’s undertow, sucking your helpless soul under the ship.  It introduces the album with a big grooving riff from the first second and has one of the most frenzied parts at about 4:10.  “New chelovek” or as translated “New people”, is a term that represented to ideologists of the Communist Party an archetypal person and citizen.  Very reminiscent of Nazi ethnic ideology as we all know it.  Also eerily fitting as a title to the song that very well sets the standard for the rest of Aurora. “Total Denial”, at 8 minutes, packs in everything the band has to offer:  Battering death metal, a 2nd to 3rd gear d-beat up shift, interesting wah (maybe flange? Maybe both? Don’t punch me through the internet for my uncertainty) guitar leads, and doom dirge.  Multiple listens later and I’m never bored.

The trio Panzerkruezer have released an effective, and efficient death metal record in Aurora.  Very much like the bombing campaign against Dresden, where relatively few resources (planes, bombs) were focused to lay such a comparatively immense magnitude of waste. This album stands up exceptionally next to their warmongering peers. I’m certain that had their ranks included a stable of extreme metal icons, like a Hail Of Bullets, this album would be getting wider attention.  I’m pleased to have written this review if it means getting a few more ears to tune in.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mars Budziszewski
September 29th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Good stuff. ill be ordering this


  2. Commented by: Count_Breznak

    PanzerkrEUzer. As in Battleship. It’s even there on the cover, and yet you misspell it every single time.


  3. Commented by: Mars/Slaveborn

    I will perform Yubitsume, and promptly mail the finger tip to Erik Thomas to atone for this most dishonorable misspelling.

    I’m just having fun with my mistake ;). You got me, Count.


  4. Commented by: Count_Breznak

    Atonement can only be obtained by watching https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battleship_Potemkin 5 times back to back !


  5. Commented by: Mars/Slaveborn

    In a Clockwork Orange like viewing session


  6. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Fingertip received and accepted. changes made.


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