Was 2013’s “Apnoe” a step too far for Todtgelichter? It was quite a departure from their early stuff but three years and a couple of new members later it seems the band have had a little bit of a re-think. Not a UK government style u-turn, that would be counter productive and things in the Todtgelichter camp are certainly still nestling in the progressive/avant-garde area, but there has been a discernible nudge back towards the extreme and more than the occasional whiff of modern Black Metal creeping back in.
One main difference this time around is that one of their two vocalists, Marta, is basically their one vocalist now, taking on clean as well as harsh and screams. Still echoing some of the vocal stylings of say Madder Mortem, she is also including anything from Asrai to Siouxsie and the Banshees to Arch Enemy to Astarte (and so much more – the vocals are SO varied you can see why the band realized they only needed one vocalist!), the listener is in for a lesson in lunacy right from the off. But the eccentricity and unexpectedness of the vocals is only possible because of the diverse nature of the music. Musically, and in each song’s entirety, it’s difficult to compare Todtgelichter 2016 to anyone. Sometimes (he continues, having a vague stab at it anyway…) there’s a nod to the past with some tracks having elements of everything from Peccatum, Anacrusis, In The Woods or early Tiamat, but in the same song you could be reminded of A Forest Of Stars, Agalloch, and the aforementioned Madder Mortem. Told you it was difficult…
The addition of an organist in the line-up has stripped back a little of their previous bleakness and replaced it with a fuller sound that can switch from venom-ridden angst through to down right misery with total ease. It has also opened up a swathe of options on a sonic level that many other bands of this style don’t have. It brings a warmth to a song that was up to that point colder than a penguin’s wedding tackle. To be perfectly honest Todtgelichter have crossed into a musical realm that I personally am not a huge fan of, but Todtgelichter sometimes stand alone and it’s impossible to not have an appreciation of their talent, experimentation and diversity. This is not album you can instantly get bored with, there’s too much going on, it’s also not an album that allows itself to be pigeon-holed or predicted. It’s dark, progressive and avant-garde, whilst also still being aggressive, non-conformist and also melancholic. Actually, It’s just one more step in the continually evolving, varied musical catalogue of Todtgelichter.
(7/10 Andy Barker)