LebenNature, and man’s struggle with it, has always been a theme for black metal artists, especially those from Finland and Norway. Although the title, which roughly translates as “Autumn Dying”, is in Finnish, the artist behind this is a German from Saxony. This work comes across as a pessimistic and windswept exploration.

The setting is bleak from the outset. “Herbsttag” (Autumn Day) is a spoken piece and reflects the wind, the rain and nothingness. “Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben” (Whoever is alone now will remain so for a long time). I suppose it’s not eternal condemnation but I didn’t detect much by way of hope here. “Welkes Leben” (Faded Life) starts off in a minimalist and gloomy fashion. In fact it reminded me of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side”. From rank depression there are screams and the sound of razor-sharp guitars. The conclusion is mystifying. A similar pattern occurs on the following track “Herbststerben” (Autumn Dying). A fiery black metal riff disturbs a series of humdrum sounds. There’s a deep, rustling sound as if someone is treading on leaves. The mood swings between tracks. “Weiβe Einsamkeit” (White Loneliness) is slow and plodding. The guitar style is such is that it’s like an ambient black metal version of the Trumpton theme. We’re constantly reminded of the leaves and the rain. Then the ferocity returns of an early Burzum track. It’s intense but “Lebenswinter” (Life’s Winter) is without message or meaning or at least one that I could determine. After further intensity, the mood swings to acoustic tranquillity without apparent rhyme or reason. The constant changes suggest unpredictability. “Kuolema” (Death) is epic in nature. Starting as an acoustic rambling and reminding me a little of The Shadows’s “Cavatina”, the Tenhi-like deep spoken word provides constancy. Then it explodes into painful and despairing cries and stops for momentary reflection before bursting out into dark and majestic heights. Finally it fades away into no-man’s land. The finale “Päättyminen” (The End) comprises acoustic and folksy pluckings but its nature as ever which dominates in the form of whistling winds sounding like they are coming through a crack in a door. The music gives the impression of raindrops and there’s a mystical gloom in the air as the album comes to an end.

This work is of course one man’s vision. I found “Syskyn Kuoleminen“ cold and bleak as I guess I was supposed to but instead of shivering on the inside  and feeling isolated, I felt that I was on the outside trying to work out this largely depressive affair. Even when it bursts into moments of fiery and to some extent melodic black metal, it seemed very distant. “Syskyn Kuoleminen“ is ambient but for me it wasn’t substantial.

(5/10 Andrew Doherty)