This is the third album release from German black metal band Timor et Tremor. On a personal level, one of the interesting things I picked up on a was that one of the members is part of Burden of Grief, which had me chasing around to see which album of theirs I had. The more pertinent point is that Burden of Grief’s melodic darkness is here.
There are a number of elements in this work, and for that reason it should be interesting, but the problem I had with “For Cold Shades” is that these elements are flung together in a way that suggests that above all else all the rules of black metal and other peripheral genres should unerringly be followed. I felt neither uplifted nor inspired. Sure, the opening track “Yearning” has frost, menace, a creepy progression and an eerie guitar line. What’s not to like about that? I had great hopes for an explosion of fire but it never happened. “Fen Fire” got me thinking about the band Fen from my part of the world, but there’s no comparison. With the Cambridgeshire version, there’s power and pain and epic majesty. Here there is fiery black metal with a melodic line but a vocalist with a straining voice and … ach, nein … a pagan-type chorus. It’s different but anything but inspiring. “Fen Fire” then moves away into ostensibly epic territory but this all smacked of cliché over power and intensity. The strange thing is that the ingredients all seem to be there but the delivery and in particular the swelling build-ups aren’t. If the aim is to be dismal, then that’s one thing, but the epic beginnings, bleak progressions, fire, and the acoustic passage of “Alpha and Omega” suggest otherwise and even present a picture of forests, despair and battles. This should be good but my mind was static when listening to it.
The deep chorus on “Oath of Life” is no doubt intended to carry the air of heroism and battle with its deep chorus line but it just sounds weak and disrupts the non-existent flow. The long, ringing post-metal style notes do have impact, to be fair, and there is atmosphere. Although the music wasn’t generally doing anything for me, it’s not hard to picture times of yore, nature, forests, reflection on battles, warriors and all the tragedy and heroism that go with it. “Oath of Life” touches on the epic qualities, which these states of being deserve. Less impressive was “The Ghost In All That Dies”, a black metal dirge which never escapes from its grey shell. So too “The Soaring Grudge” has a dismal atmospheres. The screams and pagan moans just make it more incomprehensible. “Ethereal Dome” has more of a Viking metal air, with the fire and the turbulence, but it drops down into the depths of a fearful pagan moan. Recalling the likes of Worms of Sabnock and Himinbjorg, I remember seeing a lot of these pagan type bands about 10 years and I felt it worked better for some than others. On this album, these pagan insertions sound artificial as if put in by obligation. Thunder and lightning signal the start of the final track “Pale Faces”, but the pattern of disjointed elements is the same. The battle cry sounds false, reinforcing the overall weakness of this track and album as a whole.
This is an album that I ought to have liked but didn’t. It’s not big, it’s not sweeping and does not succeed in my view in bringing the musical and thematic elements together in a way that creates atmospheres which should then bubble up inside me. In fact I felt alienated when listening to “For Cold Shades”.
(4/10 Andrew Doherty)