(Andy Synn would like to call your attention to the fiery new album from Rană)
A while back – way back when I actually had time to write articles and opinion pieces as well as reviews (weren’t those heady days?) – I wrote a piece interrogating what it was which made Metal my genre of choice.
At the time I chose to focus on the feeling of “power” inherent in the music, that sense of energy and electricity which – even at its darkest and doomiest – Metal possesses that I just can’t seem to find in other genres (which isn’t to say I’m not a fan of other styles of music, it’s just that I have different reasons for loving them).
But there’s more to it than that. Indeed, these days at least, it’s as much, if not even more so, about the passion behind the performance… something which no “AI” generated facsimile or written-by-committee cash-grab can ever capture or replicate… and, in that regard, I’ve yet to encounter (m)any other releases so far this year that are as passionate as Richtfeuer.
The four tracks of Crust-infused, Doom-tinged, and utterly ferocious Black Metal which make up Rană‘s new album are each absolutely overflowing with raging energy and raw emotion, as befitting a record whose self-declared purpose is to provide a beacon of hope amidst the burning down of the old social order.
But while there’s no shortage of blistering blastbeats and bristling tremolo guitars – opener “Läutern”, for example, is propelled by a sequence of savage sonic eruptions which practically burst their way out of the speakers every time – Richtfeuer is ultimately a far more nuanced and intelligent affair whose moody melancholy and doomy desolation help to add layers of depth and intrigue which will, no doubt, keep you coming back for more, again and again.
The aforementioned opener, for example, marries its more aggressive tendencies to a more sombre sense of atmosphere not dissimilar to Downfall of Gaia at their most morose, while the gloomy grooves and punchy percussive patterns of “Flamura” recall the best of Spectral Wound and/or Dödsrit, two bands who – I would hazard – share a close kinship, both musically and spiritually, with Rană themselves.
It’s the last two songs, however, which really expand upon the potential shown on the group’s previous release (2021’s Armament), with the mournful melodies and plaintive clean vocals which perfuse the title-track providing an Agalloch-ian counterpoint to the rest of the track’s cathartic, Crust-driven attack, while the agony and ecstasy of eighteen-minute closer “Our Smouldering Grief” makes room and allows every element of the group’s sound – the weighty, doom-laden riffs and propulsively punky drums, the enigmatic balance of bleak melodies, blackened intensity and anguished atmosphere – to shine.
And while I may have dropped a few big names into the mix here, don’t let that make you think that Rană are in any way derivative – rather, treat it as a mark of my esteem that I’m willing to hold the band up right alongside these other artists where they rightfully belong.