Review: Coldworld - Melancholie²

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15. Jan. 2010, 8:08

Melancholie²
Rating: 4.25/5

Melancholie² is the debut long player for Germany's ColdWorld, after an EP (impressively limited to two runs of 50 copies each — I mean really, what's the point?) and a demo, and it's a surprisingly mature release that accomplishes pretty much what it sets out to do.

ColdWorld is the brainchild of a single man (yes another one-man Black Metal band), Georg Börner, who has delivered an austere album of atmospheric that perfectly complements his bands name. This is a work of bleak cold and smothering isolation, casting you adrift in a world of icy snowstorms and forests of howling winds. The atmosphere is thick and enveloping, provided largely by the guitars which are swathed in reverb and awash with undertones of ocean-like white noise, not quite the snowstorm of Veil's Sombre but more like the periphery of a blizzard, a beckoning coldness that lures you in via haunting melodies and hopeful keyboards. Given this foundation of white noise the production is very good; the bass is quite warm when it comes to the fore, but mostly does little but provide the foundation and following the guitar and keyboard patterns; the drums are "just there", doing little but keeping beat, sounding like they are programmed. The guitars and keyboards are the stars of the show, as they should be, and each is represented clearly in the mix and given the necessary room to move when they take to the fore. G.B.'s vocals sound distant at all times, calling out into the world with pain and anguish, a tortured shriek reminiscent of Varg's screeching, and are drenched in reverb. Occasionally it is pushed through the "telephone voice" effect used by Opeth and Porcupine Tree and then distorted; it's an effective technique that further enhances the feeling of distance and despair.

The songs play out quite differently from each other, and while the album is largely slow to mid-paced, there is variation with some tracks, such as "Dream of a Dead Sun", being pretty quick and full of airy keyboard lines, and some clean, dream-like vocals floating under the harsher shrieks. "Tortured by Solitude" takes some Katatonia style guitar lines mixed with some hope filled keyboard passages, and the ever-present ColdWorld atmosphere, driving it along past a sorrowful cello intro. There are a couple of ambient pieces, namely "Winterreise" and "Stille", and while I am generally not a fan of the ambient interlude, these pieces add to the album and its atmosphere, never dragging or overstaying their welcome. The album highlight is the lengthy "Red Snow", a track which encompasses all the elements of Melancholie² with its ambient keyboard intro and mid-paced, washed out verses that drown under ethereal keyboards and slow tremolo riffs, peaking in an urgent and uncomfortable middle section that sells the cold atmosphere wonderfully before segueing into "Stille" which extends "Red Snow"s coda. The album closer "Escape" is perfectly named with a much more hopeful feel than the preceding tracks, very much providing a sense that the listener has passed through the storm of Melancholie² and emerged into daylight with the promise of a brighter future, but tempered by the shadow of the despondency that had to be endured to reach this point. It is a great denouement to the narrative nature of the album and very nicely highlights it title.

Melancholie² is all about the atmosphere and the melodies, and whether they are served up via the keyboards or the guitars they are universally memorable. The songs aren't catchy as such — you probably won't be humming along, but, emerging as they do, through the thick fog of icy atmosphere, will keep drawing you back into its world of haunting isolation and pleasing sadness. This is an album for cold winter days, gray skies and solitary walks; a highly recommended platter of atmospheric Black Metal.

Originally reviewed for The Metal Crypt

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