The creative processes of the German black metal band Wrack are atypical. They have not been in a rush. Thirteen years have passed since the release of their debut album Gram und gleißende Wutwork, and since then they have worked simultaneously on four albums, creating numerous songs and continually revisiting them, allowing them to connect or diverge and to experience a kind of intuitive evolution. In that evolution, during which Wrack say the subconscious plays a greater role than the rational, other genre influences have been brought in.
One of the albums that have taken shape over those 13 years, Altäre der Vergänglichkeit (German for “Altars of Transience”), was released earlier this month by the Crawling Chaos label. It features guest contributions from Stef of Minas Morgul, Rigor Mortis of Hallig, and Frida Nordlys of Miscreation.
In its conception, the album “describes the spiritual atmosphere that emanates from the aesthetics of external and internal decay” — “the decay of the man-made, as well as the refuge and violence of the natural realm, draw a deeply connected, but also rapt relationship to nature”. In its expression, it provides a mixture of atmospheric black metal and death/doom, accented by acoustic guitars, 7-string guitars, and ambient drones, as well as considerable vocal variety.
What we have for you today, to help draw attention to this captivating record, is the premiere of a video for a two-part song on the album, the name of which is “Ruinen“.
These combined songs, which appear as “Ruinen I” and “Ruinen II” in the album’s track list, tell the story that surrounds the album: “I sent out a white dove; but she returned as a crow, her feathers all burnt; fringed by the gray-black ashen dress, she croaks her song of death, all dreamy” (in German, “Ich habe eine weiße Taube ausgesandt; doch kehrte sie als Krähe zurück, ihr Gefieder ganz verbrannt; vom grau-schwarzen Aschekleid umsäumt, krächzt sie ihr Lied vom Tod, ganz verträumt“).
Turmoil and tumult reign from the first moment, –drums blasting, guitars searing and jolting, and a harrowing voice expelling a protracted scream. Bursts of blaring sound and high, sweeping tonal extravagance emerge, along with tinkling notes and impassioned singing, harrowing howls, and wild yells.
As we’ve already described, Wrack‘s music is relentlessly multi-faceted, and so “Ruinen” slows into a phase of grief-stricken melodic doom coupled with savage death-growls and stricken cries. The twists and turns continue, and they include big heavy metal chords and head-rumbling grooves; heroic choral vocals and a deeper voice that hints at gothic doom, crawling passages of utmost hopelessness and earnest beseeching, and firestorms of instrumental frenzy.
There’s a theatrical quality to the vocals, as if a cast of different characters have joined together in a dramatic portrayal, and the relentless genre-shifting variations of the music also seem like a dramatic emotional narrative in progress.
The only song that follows the two-part “Ruinen” on the album is “Interludium I” (interlude I), in which “Ruinen II” is continued through a melancholy acoustic-guitar melody in a dark neo-folk composition (with striking vocal variety, both haunting and spine-tingling in their harsh intensity). The band explain: “It links the album to the next three albums that follow, anticipating lyrical and musical motifs from the as yet unreleased songs: ‘Doch ein Sturm zieht auf’ (yet, a storm is coming)”.
Altäre der Vergänglichkeit is available for order now on digipack CD, LP vinyl, and digital formats (along with apparel).