|Cover art by Metastazis|
When I got offered to listen to Porta Nigra's Kaiserschnitt ahead of the release date I felt an extreme eager to hear it, but also an unnerving hesitation. The thought of being let into those smoky rooms, filled with the decadence and wonder of a bygone era both appealed to me but also raised a bit of fear for the unknown. But to find out what these two gentlemen from Germany had concocted on their new album I stretched out my arm, lifted the heavy drapes aside and looked into that old room again...
I had hoped to sneak in unnoticed but got caught off guard when I realized that while the room still felt the same, Porta Nigra had changed their suits. Cast aside the lazy atmosphere and absinthe drenched thoughts for mad warmongers dressed in stiff uniforms, waving their rifles in the air declaring their truth to the world. Add shady ladies with doubtful agendas and industrialized power and you are almost there. But there is more, as there always are with these two geniuses.
I curse my lacking knowledge of German. I understand enough of the lyrics to get an overall picture, but too little to really get them. That said: I really enjoy "Femme Fatale", "Kaiserschnitt" and most surprisingly even the extremely melancholic and depressing "Kein Schöneres Tod" for the lyrics. "Kein Schöneres Tod" shares the title with an old German folk-song/soldier-song from the 17th century. Porta Nigra does many fascinating things on this album, but this is by far the one song that I felt most surprised about. Maybe I have interpreted it wrongly, but it fits as Kaiserschnitt is an album dedicated to the victims of ‘The War To End All Wars’ - the 1st World War and the megalomania of Kaiser Wilhelm II. There's also mentions of some of the femme fatales of history, such as Eva, Lilith and Mata Hari. And thanks to "Femme Fatale" Bram Dijkstra’s book "Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-De-Siecle Culture" is now on my to-buy-list.
I really liked Fin de Siécle for it’s theme throughout the album; it held together from start to finish and so does Kaiserschnitt. The essence of Porta Nigra's decadence is still there, the unease is there, but there is more anger, despair and power behind the words and in the execution of the tracks. If there ever was any doubt about their creativity, there should be none after this album. Porta Nigra dives down into the murky waters of the past and delivers it elegantly, with a crooked smile on their lips, on a somewhat bent and dirty silver plate for us to feast upon, urging us to also look back and take note of the past before it is forgotten.