Kermania - Ahnenwerk
Van Records
Epic Black Metal
4 songs (56'54")
Release year: 2006
Kermania's official site, Van Records
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

Is it possible to make black metal sound truly epic, without going for a big-ass symphonic orchestra, which dilutes the original genre authenticity? Kermania’s frontman Weigand answers emphatically “YES” with Ahnenwerk, an impressive work touching on the subjects of Germanic history, paganism and mythology.

Ahnenwerk masterfully incorporates two 20+ minutes compositions, Schwertes Schaerfe Beichtgesang and Heimatferne Rast, without ever getting boring or tacky. With the narrative speed and Wagnerian flair we are presented images of ancient forests and battlefields. In this sense Heimatferne Rast is especially structured. From a dejected and brooding melody anticipating tragedy, rumbling drums lead us into a blasty battle, stopping only for a brief acoustic interlude, to collect the bodies. The story comes full circle, back to how it started, with the gamut of semi-clean chorus dreading another battle to come. Kermania tells its stories with a progression of repeating riff parts, from Xasthur and Agalloch-sad to Immortal proud and hypnotic, but not as speed-dizzying, tremolo. Melancholic and ambient coexist with aggressive, when Veitersberg 1487 sandwiches tribal blackened thrash with its blasting and howling around polyphonic waltz. Some melodies on Ahnenwerk are simply superb, the pain and pang of the closing title track and the one in Schwertes Schaerfe Beichtgesang around 16th minute after an acoustic march interlude. The beauty and piercing desperation of that melody in Schwertes Schaerfe Beichtgesang match Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room and also make me recall recently reviewed Draugsang, especially its Alt Håp E Tapt composition.

Where otherwise interludes and song stoppages would have been excessive, in Ahnenwerk their purpose is quite profound, letting the stories proceed in chapters. Another good find is Weigand using a wide variety of extreme voices. From aggressive high shriek to even more anguished Anaal Natrakh scream to a clean tired drunken warrior clean chant – the man seems to find the voice that suits the current shade of his music best.

The drumming by Alexander von Meilenwald (Nagelfar, The Ruins of Beverast) is very much in the back of the mix and non-invasive, only providing a perfect rhythmic palette on which Weigand is to lay all of the color. However, one really has to have a stomach for the production of the percussion on this album, with the snare sounding like the sticks are hitting a wooden 2X4 and hissing riding cymbal. Those only perusing kvlt black metal will find this to be a minor point not worthy of attention or, on the opposite, adding special charm.

Considered Ahnenwerk is practically a work of a single individual, the layering and attention to detail, on top of all melodic prowess and flawlessly executed concept, makes the album truly stand out. This is definitely not your general run-of-the-mill Satanic norsecore.

Killing Songs :
Schwertes Schaerfe Beichtgesang, Heimatferne Rast
Alex quoted 85 / 100
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