I’m always in favour of artists using their surroundings so the fact that Rauhnåcht, a solo project from Austria with various session musicians to support him, has this epithet is welcome. The “gipfel” of the title normally means the mountain top so music to match was again to be hoped for.
The strength suggested by the presentation isn’t reciprocated in the opener “Zwischen den Jahren” (between the years), which has a mediaeval folk-like feel and electronica of the 1970s. Hissing growls enter but are somewhat underweight and it swings from darkness to a tinny riff. The chorus is, I guess, meant to take us to rousing former times but this is all rather confusing. The title track follows. The scene here is one of epic melancholy from the pre- or post-battle courtyard. Musically it’s somewhere in the territory of Varg or maybe Suidakra. The pompous style has a strong air of Moonsorrow, especially in the chorus, but it just doesn’t have the power or the quality. On it plods into infinity. The drum beats as if battle is about to commence, and eventually the atmosphere becomes fiery. Before the final chorus, there’s a section that is strongly reminiscent of “Tubular Bells”.
I was only loosely getting the sense of “five pagan battle hymns”, as these songs were not being allowed to develop. By contrast the start of “Gebirgsbachreise” deviates from the norm and using an acoustic base, generates a mystical atmosphere of the ”Gebirchsbachreise” (mountain stream journey) – this is much more like it. Heavier elements enter the scene but do not detract from the pattern. This time the chorus enhances the mood. This is by far the simplest concept so far but also the most effective. “Ein Raum aus vergess’ner Zeit” (a room from forgotten time) then starts with an eastern mysticism, but this is just an introduction to a deep and epic passage. Black metal fire takes over and gives way without obvious explanation to a starry cavalcade. The inevitable chorus cuts in but I thought this track was still finding its way between the dark and mystical elements. The chorus needed to enhance the scene or round things off but whilst I didn’t dislike “Ein Raum aus vergess’ner Zeit” musically, I couldn’t get to grips with its progression. I sensed that there was something epic intended about this and the final track “Winter zieht übers Land”, but they didn’t hang together with the transformations. “Winter zieht übers Land” (winter draws over the land) does however more power and purpose. It is fiery but I didn’t get much sense of winter. In fact I didn’t get much sense of anything however epic this was supposed to be. Rather it makes desultory progress with breaks, transformations and the choral line to which we have become accustomed.
Personally I couldn’t get much inspiration from “Unterm Gipfelthron”. Musically it’s ok and wavers towards the epic, but I found it a bit flung together, or at least constructed in a way that repeated certain patterns without always giving me a sense of the theme or intended scene. Some passages are without doubt stronger than others but overall this wasn’t for me a strong album, and so I had no connection to it. All in all, I found it disappointing.