Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ahnengrab - Omen

Ahnengrab are a relatively new German pagan metal group. Their self-titled debut came out 4 years ago, and last month they released a second full-length, Omen. It's the first recorded material of any kind they've released since the debut.

The first thing I noticed about this record is how surprisingly catchy and upbeat it is. The musicianship is excellent, and the vocals are shrieked and rasped in the traditional style of the black metal family tree, but the sound doesn't come across as cold and hostile. Instead, beautiful acoustic intros lead straight into riffs that are so driving and energetic that I find my head bouncing along with the beat as I listen. The guitar tones are surprisingly full, and the two guitarists interweave their parts marvelously. The drumming, rather than the nonstop tinny pummeling often found in black metal and pagan metal, is varied and oddly warm in tone. Folk instrumentation crops up periodically, complimenting but not overwhelming the metal end of the music and creating gorgeous pockets of folk atmosphere. Even the bass finds its way into the mix in places.

The vocals, as I previously mentioned, are largely hoarse black metal rasps, but they do vary distinctly in places. There are various degrees of shouting and even some borderline spoken vocals scattered throughout the album. Additionally, "Feuer Kapitel I" features quite a lot of death metal grunting, and given the guitar approach on that track, I would even consider it melodic death metal song. And in fact the band does flirt with that line more than once in the course of this record. It's a sound they execute reasonably well, but it's not quite as compelling as the more blackened pagan end of their spectrum.

In terms of complaints, I haven't really got much to say. A couple of transitions from acoustic folk into metal riffs could be smoother, and I would probably have liked the album a little better if they had stayed away from death metal entirely. That said, the end product is still an excellent album.

Grade: A-
Aside from a few minor issues, this is a really good and really enjoyable record. There's a chance this could make my top 10 list when the end of the year rolls around.

No comments:

Post a Comment