Der Blutharsch - _The Philosopher's Stone_
(Tesco, 2007)
by: Nikola Shahpazov (5 out of 10)
You have to hand it to Albin Julius for his will to progress and change -- and it does require certain bravery, especially when it comes to transforming a well-established musical entity such as Der Blutharsch. Herr Julius could have easily issued a hundred more ambient / martial industrial EPs, 7" vinyls and full-lenghts -- and fans would have been grateful. Still, after the somewhat transitional _Time Is Thee Enemy_ and _When Did Wonderland End?_, these days we see Der Blutharsch heading steadily forward (or rather backwards) into rock 'n' roll territory.

Granted, this is not the Guns 'n' Roses type of loud, macho, drink and fight approach, but rather a post-punk, minimalist, psychedelic and noir brand of rock, characterized by the general weirdness that is so characteristic of both Der Blutharsch and its affiliated acts. Guitars are of course heavily present, but so are tambourines, synths, organ, chimes, violin and Indian flute -- handled by the usual suspects Marthynna, Jörg B., Bain Wolfkind and Sol Invictus' Matt Howden.

Despite moments when it manages to sound genuinely eerie (think in the line of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds meet David Lynch and join forces for a pseudo goth rock soundtrack), _The Philosopher's Stone_ is quite a bit chaotic: songs barely have a definite structure and the sound is deliberately muddled, so that half of the aforementioned instruments are practically lost in the final mix. Both Julius' and Marthynna's vocals are often out of key or only half-audible, thus completely ruining the idea of an effective chorus. Most of the unnamed tracks tend to simply plod along -- dull and easily forgettable.

While we assumed the flaws found on _When Did Wonderland End?_ were simply the natural side effect of the metamorphosis, this time we can only ascertain _The Philosopher's Stone_ is a sloppy, directionless lo-fi affair. Not a thoroughly terrible album, but certainly not the most interesting listen either.


(article published 11/3/2008)

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