ENTARTUNG: Maleficae Artes
Release year: 2020
Label: Dunkelheit Produktionen
With almost ten years since their inception, and with several albums to their name, Entartung from Germany are far from newcomers to the field. Yet, they’ve remained firmly locked in the shadows of the underground, never breaking into larger international recognition even in the underground scene.
But such are the whims of fate, right? Not everyone who gets recognition deserves it, and not everyone who deserves recognition gets it. Entartung definitely belong to the latter group.
Entartung’s sound is atmospheric, but with a strong raw edge; melodic, yet also brutal. There’s nothing particularly new or original in their sound, which combines elements from the classic Norwegian sound of old with a more modern, melancholic sound explored by, for example, many Finnish bands. However, what they lack in originality, they make up for in quality.
Being their fourth album, it comes as no surprise that Maleficae Artes is a tight package with well-crafted compositions, good sound and a knack for melancholic, wistful atmospherics. The sorrowful guitar melodies are complemented by the thick, fog-like sound and the tortured, raspy shrieks serving as vocals are a good fit. The album consists of four proper tracks and an acoustic interlude, with most of the actual songs running well over nine minutes; still, they never feel like they drag on for too long, succumb into pointless repetition or lose coherence. On the contrary, despite their ambitious length, Entartung manages to keep the tracks interesting.
It’s ultimately quite pointless to pick out favourite tracks here, because firstly, all have interesting sections and secondly, the album works best as a whole. However, were I to pick two, it’d be the starting duo of Tower Of Silence and Bortförd. The first mentioned is a varied track with both blasting fury and melancholic melodicism, combining the best part of “the Finnish sound” with 90’s influences and noughties atmospheric black metal. Bortförd, on the other hand, with its acousting opening and alternating choral-style clean vocals and black metal shrieks, reminds me strongly of Ulver and the likes – a fine song in a very classic Scandinavian tradition, complete with Swedish lyrics. The rest of the album isn’t worse by any means, but if these two don’t convince you, then you’re better off listening to something else.
Maleficae Artes is a thoroughly convincing album with a sort of very classic blend of rawness and melody, aggression and atmosphere. Entartung do not challenge or reshape established formulas; instead, they embrace them to their fullest, and in doing so have created an album that is a fine modern representation of timeless, classic black metal.
And an album I highly, very highly recommend.
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