Brocken Moon - _Das Märchen vom Schnee_
(Northern Silence, 2008)
by: Nikola Shahpazov (8 out of 10)
Brocken Moon is a graceful bow to the national romantic trend in early Norwegian black metal. With its combination of old-school tactics, deliberately raw sound, melody, ambient interludes and German folklore, _Das Märchen vom Schnee_ is quite a treat for all who spent the last decade complaining that Ulver never did a suitable sequel to _Bergatatt_, myself (occasionally) included.

No spelling mistakes here: Brocken (or Blocksberg) is a snow-capped peak in the Harz mountains, and if you happen to pass there on Walpurgisnacht (that being April 30) you might just be lucky to observe the Sabbath -- witches flying around and everything. Or so local tradition states, elegantly put into poetry by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his magnum opus "Faust". That being said, _Das Märchen vom Schnee_ makes use of all these influences, hurling them straight into a sonic journey through fast-paced black metal riffs, hectic drumming, some neat melodic leads and a ton of folk-tinged acoustic guitars.

It's always a question of balance when you're striving for this type of atmospheric blend of black metal, and Brocken Moon have managed well enough; the album sets the tone perfectly and never loses its momentum. Vocals range from ghostly whispers to rather traditional infernal rasp and tortured, over-the-top Burzumic screams that are just a bit bothersome.

The closing chapter is a massive, twenty minute exploration of hypnotic repetition, featuring a very simple guitar chord, subtle keyboard background and sparse percussion. Even if they somehow missed Brocken Moon's five demos and the _Mondfinsternis_ debut, admirers of both Dornenreich, early Nargaroth and, well, Ulver are very likely to find _Das Märchen vom Schnee_ an enjoyable listen.


(article published 13/7/2008)

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