7/6/2007 - Review by: Etiam
Diagnose: Lebensgefahr - Transformalin - 2006 - Autopsy Kitchen Records
|Track Listing1. The Level Beyond Human |
3. Flaggan På Halv Stång I Drömmens Västergård
4. Upon The High Horse Of Selfdestruction
5. Situazion: Lebensgefahr
7. The Last Breath Of Tellus
8. Mani VS Apati
9. Tillsammans Men Ensam I Stillhetens Kapell
10. Obducentens Dröm
11. De Vårdar Mig In I Döden
In today’s music scene, few things are certain. Record labels are taking fewer chances on new artists out of miserly fear, great underground acts remain unappreciated, and abominations like William Hung debut high on the Billboard charts to sell thousands of records. What does seem clear, though, is that the era of mass-marketable pop continues to lose ground to the smaller niche markets, with many fans actually exhibiting distaste for major movements of any kind. Specifically for the anti-cultural culture of black metal, this translates to: “Darkthrone clones, hang up your spiked braces and move on—your day is done.” And yet, as sure as the sunset of that era may be, it’s been very difficult to lock onto its biggest successor. Instead, we begin to see any number of splinter factions rising up to seduce anew the wretched beast within us, and not the one that likes to watch American Idol for the rejections.
Pop culture aside, one of metal’s most notable and successful trends over the past few years has been the rise of dark ambient and noise-influenced black metal. Abruptum were the unequaled masters of the movement for many years, but in the wake of their disbandment we have seen the rise to fame of such groups as The Ruins of Beverast, Stalaggh, Darkspace, Paysage d’Hiver, SV.20, Vomit Orchestra, and others.
And now, with ‘Transformalin’, Diagnose: Lebensgefahr looks to be included in the above list. This project’s sole member is Nattramn, whose ‘Death—Pierce Me’ album under the project name Silencer stands alongside early Shining as defining works in the suicidal black metal movement. Diagnose: Lebensgefahr is significantly different from either, though, and should not be considered a black metal album as such.
Instead, ‘Transformalin’ is a bleak voyage through related genres, particularly dark ambient and noise-influenced industrial, with black metal serving as the filter that taints and completes them. Consequently, ‘Transformalin’ is a jarring experience that can be harshly rhythmic at one moment—almost appropriate for hardcore electronica—and the next dive into unmetered, dragging ambience, while still others draw on martial cadences and horn reveries that echo in the background, rather like a drugged and distant version of Kreuzweg Ost.
Apparently, the creation of this album was a source of therapy for Nattramn while he languished in a psychiatric ward for a year—which likely inspired the cover art—but it’s hard to imagine that a project this morose would have availed him any sense of relief. We the audience are in luck, though, since it makes for a truly compelling listening. ‘Transformalin’ plays out like a personal journal, with Nattramn exercising (though hardly exorcising) his demons to great effect. Though mostly instrumental, he does provide ‘narration’ from time to time with primarily clean vocals that range from manically impassioned to psalm-tone catatonia. The atmosphere created is dour, organic, earnest—and if Nattramn’s issues with mental health continue to produce such riveting chronicles of the human experience, I suggest we shelve the Get Well Soon cards, join the doctors encircling this patient’s hospital bed, and place our stethoscopes against his ichorous heart.