Vinterriket/Northaunt - Split EP - 2005 - Flood The Earth Records
1. Landschaften Ewiger Einsamkeit IX 2. Until Dawn Do Us Part 3. Am Brennenden Nordlichen Firmament 4. Shadows over the Barren Land 5. Lanschaften Ewiger Einsamkeit VII 6. Ode 7. Lanschaften Ewiger Einsamkeit VII
Vinterriket and Northaunt are two very similar German bands that have released a split EP together. Vinterriket, Christoph Ziegler’s one man project, contributes four tracks, numbers one, three, five, and seven. The even numbered tracks are the work of one Herleif Langaas, who is also the sole member of his project. Both bands emit forth a very powerful form of ambient music, with Vinterriket seeming to draw more inspiration from atmospheric black metal, while Northaunt are heavily influenced by dark wave. Together these tracks collide to create a very haunting album, but Northaunt come off as a far superior band to Vinterriket.
I enjoyed the four Vinterriket songs on the album, but I have similar problems with them as I did with the songs on “Der Letzte Winter – Der Ewigkeit Entgegen,” Vinterriket’s most recent full-length. The individual songs are quite breathtaking to behold. Ziegler does a good job of combining atmospheric effects and ambient sounds (such as recordings of nature) to produce complex and haunting music. The drawback, however, is that the structure of each Vinterriket song seems very similar. It’s very tough to tell them apart unless close attention is paid to subtle details. While I don’t doubt that this is done on purpose to draw a certain mental response from the listener, I think it is extremely overdone.
The only exception to this pattern is the track entitled “Am Brennenden Nordlichen Firmament,” the EP’s third and Vinterriket’s second. Here Ziegler uses more creative keyboard effects, including bells, organs, and pianos. The result is a song that is far from boring – the shifting tempos and sounds are very interesting to follow. I’m distinctly reminded of a later Burzum composition on this song. Another interesting aspect of these four Vinterriket songs is that not once do we hear the sound of a guitar. Vocals are also absent. Structurally the band’s black metal influence remains intact, but instrumentally Ziegler must have chosen to leave that aspect of his music on the side for this one. It creates a somewhat nice change from other Vinterriket work, which often has a very strong black metal presence.
While Vinterriket’s contributions to this album were good but not perfect, Northaunt’s struck me as almost flawless. Langaas does an excellent job of combining sounds and different atmospheres to the point where my mind is constantly fixated on the song, following every audible note. He also applies the recordings of natural sounds such as wind, waves, and ran very well. But the thing that puts Northaunt over Vinterriket on this one is all of the additional sounds. While Ziegler, on most songs, sticks to a set formula and pattern of effects, Langaas is constantly changing things around. During one part of “Until Dawn Do Us Part” I can distinctly hear some sort of metal-on-metal clanking, which brings to mind pictures of a vast array of settings and scenarios, many of which are far from pleasant. In a sharp contrast, “Ode” is a severely minimalist twelve minute track that is dominated by the howling of the wind. However, when some other sound does come into play, like artificial wailing or creepy whispering, the change is sharp and oftentimes unexpected. Instead of being repetitive, this sort of minimalism is unpredictable and planned out extremely well.
Fans of any sort of atmospheric music would be smart to try and get their hands on a copy of this EP. The Vinterriket songs aren’t bad, but for their best work it would be smarter to look to a full length such as “Der Letzte Winter – Der Ewigkeit Entgegen,” where Ziegler does a much better job with the whole repetition thing. Northaunt, on the other hand, make this release totally worthwhile. Prepare to be blown away by Herleif Langaas’ creativity and innovation.
Vinterriket – 7/10 Northaunt – 9/10
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