The third album from German black metallers Shrike, Sieben marks a new chapter in the evolution of the band, a new turn in the seven year creative adventure to date as marked by the release’s title. A concept album providing arguably the rawest intent and musical breath from the Berlin quartet so far, Sieben is a savage and ruinous affair but equally one ripe with choice hooks and tempting grooves escorted by a mouthwatering imagination. The five track release does not expel a wholly unique proposition it is probably fair to say, but thrusts one over the senses which makes you stand up and take notice whilst marking out the potential and inventive depths which course through the band’s veins for possibly even greater future impacts.
Formed in 2006, debut album Meine Wucherung that same year ensured that the band was available to a certain attention, which last year’s successor Hinab in die vertraute Fremdheit reinforced and took to a stronger, wider spotlight. Sieben takes band and sound to new levels and you suspect similarly potent recognition. As mentioned it is not ground-breaking stuff unleashed within the powerful and aggressive confrontation but a constant and persistent persuasion which can enchant like a temptress and ravage like a wounded wild animal with intensive and skilfully crafted enterprise.
The self-released provocation preys on ears, thoughts, and emotions from its opening seconds, the first track Kreise casting an unsettling aural mayhem over the senses for a few seconds before exploding into an onslaught of horde like riffs and a barbarous concussive rhythmic intimidation. With the coarse vocal squalls and their scathing instigation only accentuating the raw feel of the incitement, the band vein the ruinous encounter with riveting grooves and acidic guitar swipes that increase the vitriolic colour and evocative intrigue of the black hearted storm. It is a masterful and wholly magnetic start which is backed up potently by Kadaver, its primal challenge rhythmically and vocally courted by a carnal violation of guitar and bass, the former also uncaging rabid sonic stabs and brief but irrepressibly manipulative lures within the ear smothering weave. As with the first and subsequent songs individual skills stand out from inside the destructive web, the guitars especially striking when stepping out from the oppressive tempest and in this track unveiling a mystique kissed melodic seduction which intrigues and ignites the imagination.
The title track makes its declaration upon an almost tribal bred rhythmic suasion, its initial enticement irresistible in capturing the emotions before the guitars and drums begin their maybe expected scourge of the senses but taking it to an inventive and masterfully alluring violation. Merging an antagonistic swagger and seductive melodic sways within its compellingly shifting sonic landscape, the song engages on every level; crooning the ears, coaxing the imagination, and ravishing the senses. It is a combination forging the best track on the release and making a strong statement for the increasing promise and strongly established reputation of the band.
From the blackened rage of annihilatory rock ‘n’ roll Shrike take the listener on a flight of heavily weighted slowly labouring doom spiced black metal. Von den Farben der Sehnsucht is a whispering and intrusive dirge but one from within its nightmarish realms which casts an enchanting incantation of mysterious vocals and simmering melodic rapture. It is an absorbing and imagination stretching fall into the darkest depths of the album, a suffocating plunge lit by warm and vibrant beacons to deceive and temper the demons clawing sonically the senses.
Sieben is completed by Grimassen, a track which wraps an abrasing smog of caustic riffing and concussive rhythms around the ears. It is an entrance which envelopes and oppresses but reins in its hostility a little to wait for the emerging intensive predation of the song. One of the strongest elements which makes sure Shrike is not lost within the sea of emerging bands is their ability and hunger to reinvent the direction and flavour of their tracks within their walls, the track a prime example as it easily slips into a venomous melodic embrace, broader ruinous vocal pressure, and lingering spiteful hooks. It does not quite stand up to previous songs but still brings the release to a dramatic and gripping finale.
Shrike still have some way to go to stand fully out within black metal and draw the majority of attention their way but Sieben shows they are definitely and potently on the right lines and are armed with all the attributes and imagination needed.
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