Sønderfall - _Schlachtschiff Bismarck_
(Bleak Cold Productions, 2005)
by: James Montague (6.5 out of 10)
Having graced us with the catchy black 'n' roll of their debut album _Ödeläggelse_, the Swedish duo Sønderfall returns with a new concept and a different angle. This brief EP is inspired by the famous and ill-fated German World War II vessel, the Battleship Bismarck, and its eventual "untergang" at Operation Rheinübung in the spring of 1941. The music is dedicated to the memory of the 2000 or so officers who lost their lives at the final battle, although the band has taken the precautionary step of declaring political neutrality in the liner notes, to avert any ignorant suggestions of Nazi sympathy.

So how does a black metal homage to a naval battle sound? There are a few key characteristics to examine. Firstly, you have a dominant snare drum, reverberant and metallic, that summons up the image of the claustrophobic steel enclosure of a battleship. Then you have the consistently hectic tempo, which emphasises the panic and tension on the doomed craft. Only on the final track, "Ewigkeit", do things slow down a bit -- a militant beat and somewhat tragic lead guitar line represent the ship sinking to its watery grave, with its crew, still alive, trapped in their iron coffin but staying proud and defiant to the bitter end.

Sønderfall have done a commendable job -- they have essentially taken traditional high-speed, tremolo-based black metal in the Darkthrone vein, and molded it onto an original concept to create vivid sonic imagery. I do feel that the concept is slightly underdeveloped, as although the notions of panic and fatalistic pride are palpable, there is so much more to the Bismarck story that could be explored. There are also a few amateurish touches -- the EP opens with a recording glitch and the song "Blut" has a vocal intro that vastly overstays its welcome and serves only to frustrate. These minor criticisms aside, _Schlachtschiff Bismarck_ is quite an impressive work and shows plenty of individuality within the tight confines of raw black metal.

Contact: http://www.sonderfall.nu

(article published 13/6/2005)

1/25/2004 J Montague 7 Sønderfall - Ödeläggelse
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