Friday, October 22, 2010

Krieg - "The Isolationist" (2010) [Candlelight Records]

Krieg; a band who essentially is a line in the sand for many listeners of black metal. Loved or hated, there are not too many who 'ride the fence' in regards to this band. One thing is for certain though, Krieg is one of the most important and legendary bands in the US black metal scene. Harnessing a lengthy discography that traverses all over the map (from straight-up noisy, primitive black metal to more melodic excursions), The Isolationist is the newest addition to the ever-growing Krieg palette.

The Isolationist is a stern practice in dedication to perseverance and a unique, solitary artistic vision. While many of N. Imperial's peers are opting for more commercial ventures, the latest Krieg record essentially spits in their faces. While there are some hints of melodic-ism and experimentation, the album is mostly straightforward in its quest for attaining the goal of filthy, angry black metal. N. Imperial's vocals are in top form, having always been one of the most diverse and engaging vocalists in US black metal, he is very much staying true to form. Guttural shrieks, howls and growls weave in and out of the musical tapestry in a most frightening way. Wrest's bass playing is top notch, fluid and complimentary to the grinding - and at times melodic - guitar lines and Grigg's drumming is extremely solid and in the pocket. This is by far the best/most talented Krieg line-up in their long existence and The Isolationist is surely an example of that. The songs are catchy and unique, without resorting to rehashed popular methods of escape, all while not losing a moment of the grimy brutality that Krieg has been known for and how black metal, in general, should be.

The production is top notch on The Isolationist, all instruments are clearly audible with plenty of breathing room still left in the mix. The production is also brilliantly clean, but leaving enough rawness to keep it from sounding sterile and processed. A perfect production for this kind of musical output. The artwork is also noteworthy, another sparkling gem from Rebecca Clegg that perfectly compliments and fits the recording found within.

All in all, this is an absolutely phenomenal recording, quite possibly the best album in the Krieg catalog thus far. It mixes everything that Krieg has done (and a few things they have not), but has also refined it into an impeccably powerful beast that is ready to storm the metal music world. I truly believe that this will be the album that finally gives N. Imperial and crew the respect and appreciation that they truly deserve. Hell, if Candlelight managed to pick them up and release an album the caliber of The Isolationist, I would be dumbfounded if people did not catch on to it as well. Here's to hoping for a bright future for Krieg and many more brilliant recordings on this level. This album is definitely in my personal top 10 for 2010.

- E.

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