Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Krieg - Transient

Written by Steven Leslie

Krieg has returned. For anyone even remotely familiar with US black metal this demonic wrecking crew needs no introduction. Over the course of their 19-year career they have produced some of the finest albums to emerge from the US black metal scene. And their latest is no exception. Transient, which is being released by Candlelight Records, continues their tradition of challenging and expanding the boundaries of the genre.

Right from the opening track you can feel that this is a special record. This is not the black metal of old. Instead of wind swept forests and icy mountains, what you get is the soul crushing negativity and hatred that only city life can create. This is the sound of urban decay and detritus as you are dragged through the decrepit streets and filthy sewers of the modern world. It’s a journey into the demented mind of street junkies and mental patients. And it is utterly captivating.

Krieg 2013. Photo by Carmelo Española.

Band founder and mastermind Neil Jameson has managed to find the perfect supporting cast to bring his disturbed vision to life. From start to finish this record is dripping with misanthropy and disgust. Jameson’s time in his myriad of side projects, the most notable being The Royal Arch Blaspheme and US black metal “supergroup” Twilight, has clearly rubbed off on his compositions for Krieg, in all the best ways. While Transient has all the hallmarks of previous Krieg releases, the album benefits significantly from Jameson’s vastly improved songwriting skills. Subtle melodies briefly emerge like a glimmer of light, before the seething and swarming onslaught drags you back down into the harsh reality of a meaningless existence. Mesmerizing riffs and drums cascade over you, sucking you in and pulling you into the deepest recesses of a demented mind. All of this is aided by a fantastic production and mixing job. Every instrument is clearly audible, but none of the dirt and grime that are so essential to the bands sound is lost.

Krieg 2013. Photo by Carmelo Española.

Jameson’s vocal performance is gut wrenching throughout. Some of his side projects and previous works have suffered from a lack of variety, but this is definitely not the case with Transient. You can feel the venom and vitriol oozing from every syllable. His vocal attack fits perfectly into each of the songs. From deathly bellows to throat shredding growls, Jameson puts in the vocal performance of his career. It’s a far cry from the standard black metal screech we have all heard a thousand times since the dawn of the second wave in Norway.

This is a master class in album creation from start to finish. What is most remarkable is the bands ability to take a traditional black metal template and seamlessly integrate influences from other genres. The song "Winter" is a perfect example. "Winter" is essentially a crust punk song from start to finish, which in lesser hands would easily stick out like a sore thumb. In Krieg’s case however, the song fits flawlessly alongside the more traditional black metal tracks. Krieg continues to challenge the boundaries of black metal, while staying true to the individualist spirit that is at the core of all great records. The best black metal takes you on a journey, and Transient is no exception. Hatred and disgust have never sounded so good.

Suggested track: "Time".

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2014, black metal, Candlelight Records USA, Carmelo Española, Krieg, Steven Leslie
  1. Perhaps the reason "Winter" is "essentially a crust punk song" is that it's an Amebix cover? Not that this changes the ingenuity of Krieg's handling of the song, but the review makes it seem as if it was written to provide variety on the album. Otherwise I'm in total agreement; one of the best Krieg releases yet.

    1. Yeah, you're right of course. We should have mentioned that.