The Season of Mist roster is getting pretty interesting these days, with Code and Decline of the I being two of the bands that have put out some of the most unique releases early in the year. Der Weg Einer Freiheit joins in the fun with the release of Stellar, their third full length album and their debut on Season of Mist. Solely on the visual aesthetics of Stellar, one instinctively knows what style of black metal to expect from this German horde.
The thing about these atmospheric black metal bands that really captivates me is in the ability for the band to really create a compelling atmosphere, sucking the in the listener, making the album more than just a musical experience. And Der Weg Einer Freiheit does this easily, kicking off the album with the enchanting, and almost ritualistic Repulsion. Truth be told, while things might be going at a doom pace, things get pretty heavy pretty quickly, and the crushing weight of the riffs of N.K. and Sascha along with the hard hitting drums of Tobias actually bring to mind the later, slower material of Marduk. Yet N.K. lurks at the background with his haunting, clean vocals, adding to that disturbing vibe that is emanated.
Yet with all its fury and rage, there is a sense of sadness and melancholy that lingers throughout the record, often brought to the front by the duelling riffs of the guitarists. While comparisons with Imperium Dekadenz are drawn, the more emotional and depressive moments such as the usage of the lone piano on Repulsion or the clean guitars on Requiem remind me of the works of Woods of Desolation, or even Drowning the Light and other similar bands, often aided by the desperate shrieks of N.K.. The more post-black metal moments are even rather reminiscent of the atmospheric works of Wolves in the Throne Room or Deafheaven.
The entire listening experience of Stellar is at once captivating and emotionally draining (not in a bad way though), as Der Weg einer Freiheit manages to suck the listener in right from the start and spit him out after the 50-minute emotional journey. Stellar is a perfect balance between aggression, ambient and emotions, making this one of the most enjoyable black metal releases of the year thus far.
6. Letzte Sonne
Favourite picks: Requiem