Six journeys with Asarhaddon

ASARHADDON: Reysa

Year: 2020
Label: Geisterasche Organisation

Apparently – I’m entirely dependent on the promo sheet here – “Reysa” is an old German word that can be translated as “journey” (for which the Swedish word is “resa”, btw) but also “passing” or “death”. Apparently the concept of the debut album of this German black metal duo deals with the inevitable passing of all things, or something like that.

Frankly, when the lyrics are in German and the vocal delivery is frantic shouting, and I have no lyric sheet, the finesse of the lyrical concept is entirely lost on me.

However, the music is not.

Asarhaddon‘s musical style is a hark back in time to the late nineties and early noughties; much of the time fast-paced and raw, but with decidedly melodic, melancholic guitar work. There’s an abundance of tremolo picking at work here, and the quite full and saturated guitar tone gives the album an autumnal, foggy feeling. It’s all quite familiar sounding in a vague sort of way. As I recall, in the early noughties there were an abundance of bands whose sound was in this ballpark of raw, melodic and atmospheric black metal, and the German duo sound like a competent late entry into that autumnal, nature-mystic niché.

Originality may not be one of the strong points of Reysa; luckily, quality is. The duo of Christian Kircher on drums and Christian Koss on stringed instruments and vocals weave their beautiful, melancholic atmospheres expertly, and carry a strong feeling of fog-enshrouded forests in autumnal blaze through their lengthy compositions. The album clocks in at a hefty 52 minutes, with individual track lengths ranging between six minutes and almost twelve and a half minutes, but the album never becomes repetitive or too burdensome – proving that the two Christian K.’s know what they’re doing.

Building their album from seemingly simple components – fierce yet melodic tremolo picking, vocals that are a hoarse bark, largely speedy tempos with a fair share of blasting – and adding a small amount of spice with very sparse usage of synths and undistorted picking, Asarhaddon have managed to create a captivating and engaging piece of extreme metal. Atmospheric yet raw, fierce yet melodic, though most of the album is cut from the same cloth, they find a nice amount of variety in their chosen approach to black metal.

All in all, a very satisfactory debut album.

3.5/5

Visit Asarhaddon on their official site or Bandcamp

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