It is claimed that Kaiserreich are the modern face of true black metal. I’m still more suspicious of such claims when I read that this is a mature and sonically advanced take on their “raw and aggressive form of Primeval Black Metal”. It sounds to me like they’re claiming to be everything.
It would be far from true to say that everything amounts to nothing, as Kaiserreich set out their stall with a sirening, desperate and at times epic fog of melodic black metal. The frost and the blizzards are momentarily present but some fifteen minutes in, I was getting tired of the repetitive riff and steady drum patter. The third track “Senza Luce” provided us with nine minutes of windswept grim bleakness. The scene remained static, only to be punctuated by a melancholic guitar sound and the tones of the eternally agonised vocalist. For me, things picked up in interest thanks to the morbid and atmospheric “Ombra Infranta”. The mix of black metal nihilism here was tinged with post metal and hardcore negativity – much richer musically. Depression found a new form. The dingy church bells which opened “Vuoto Assoluto” signalled new despair and another uniformly sirening monotone riff. Finally it bursts out its shell by notching up but it’s short lived as the leaden-heavy “Zero Negativo” takes over. It’s ok if you want to stare into space gloomily but whilst it makes its statement clear, it’s like an endless funeral march. I am reminded of hardcore once more as the vocalist screams his way through the gloomy fog of “High Hopes”. The prolonged chords indicate a desperate and desolate scene, picking up in intensity for a moment, but this was like treading old ground. At least “The Solitudes of Infinite”, an older track which closes the album, heightened the sense of anticipation. I sensed a transforming scene and a more punch-packed atmosphere which instrumentally reminded me a little of Vreid. But too little had happened before it to change my overall view of this album.
Kaiserreich manage to convey a funereal and rancid atmosphere but did so by the middle of the first track, after which I was waiting for some development to spark my interest or capture my soul. Such moments were few and far between.
(5/10 Andrew Doherty)