Despite starting up in 2007, this is only Totengeflüster’s third studio release (alongside a live recording from 2017’s Beermageddon festival) so they are not exactly prolific but this is definitely a case of quality over quantity. Building on the foundation laid by ‘Vom Seelensterben’ and ‘Im Nebel der Vergänglichkeit’, the Germans up the ante further with ‘The Faceless Divine’ their most complete release to date.
Opening track ‘The Arrival of the Withered’ serves as an intro with a calm yet sinister musical soundscape and subdued choral vocals which build to a crescendo before the album really kicks in with ‘On Carrion Wings’. Wasting no time this pummels from the outset with blast beats and a caustic scream, setting the scene for the onslaught that follows. The initial battery subsides to allow a little melody to permeate proceedings but there is no let up in intensity until the track fades into howling winds and an unholy spoken word interlude, which soon relapses to the original racket once more.
‘The Hollow Wanderer (Cursed)’ follows with perhaps a little more underlying melody sitting behind the abrasive outpourings giving things greater depth which continues on ‘The Hunt’ with symphonic yet abrasive black metal, until the atmosphere changes with a slowing of the pace and tormented spoken word vocals changing the aura from aggression to oppression. The intensity soon rebuilds as the track draws to a close with keyboard melodies laid prominently within the black metal battery.
‘Affliction’ begins with a military style drum intro laying the foundation for the unholy racket that follows with feral intensity juxtaposed effectively with pulsating melodies. As the album passes, the mood swings from more aggressive rampages such as ‘Extinct Paradise’ to slower, more brooding passages on ‘Grant us Thy Blessing’, and these changes in pace keep things interesting. The momentum is kept up with ‘Vermin’ and ‘Reise eines verlorenen Geistes’ complete with its symphonic mid section, delivering a masterclass in symphonic black metal.
The main body of the album is brought to a close with ‘Requiem’ which is a short melancholic piano piece with subdued choral vocals. This contrasts well with the swirling maelstrom that has gone before and creates a sense of calm and peace, nicely closing the album
The album has two bonus tracks (‘Entflamme mich!’ and ‘The Hollow Wanderer (Satin Version)’), and while these are decent enough tracks, it didn’t feel right having them coming after ‘Requiem’ had so effectively brought things to a close, but this is a minor gripe.
With ‘The Faceless Divine’, Totengeflüster have delivered yet another solid slab of symphonic black metal. It will no doubt be too polished for the black metal elite, but if you enjoy a bit of pomp and bombast with your blast beats and howls this might be right up your street
(7.5/10 Andy Pountney)