Streams of Blood – Allgegenwärtig

Can old aesthetic still prove reliable? It can, but anymore too many similarities to the old can be damning. Degraded art of the Xerox variety? Risky. I usually expect, with a cover like this, the absolute worst. Black and gray? Just a variation of black and white, and one can imagine the dialog between you and the hooded Kunstalchimist in his cinder-block cavern of des Grauens. “Come hinter meine victim, das ist your doom.” “No, foul being, what hellish concoction have thee wrought in yonder mortar?” “Tis seine Angst, weakling, und with das Bayonet I will pierce your flesh whilst chanting meinen Gesangen.” “Nein, do not this to me foul creature of Faustian Existenz, I shall not allow thy skulls, bones, and dripping mess logo to fill me with fear. I will overcome your gauntlet forearm treachery. Never shall I purchase your elite Kassette von das Weimar Republic.” So I’m totally rambling by this point, but what I’m trying to capture here is my usual experience with German black metal. Streams of Blood, however, have deceived me. It was deception I was not expecting, and which was certainly unintentional, as the cover of Allgegenwärtig is absolutely in tune with the usual. The cover has a knife, bones, a skull, a hood, is in some sort of cave-like structure, the logo is illegible, and most importantly drips, there’s a pentagram, a gauntlet, and a syringe for a little variety, but in actuality this is like putting just one extra spike on a gauntlet. A really long one, no doubt, but still it’s just another poke into the skin, and one can only be poked so much before the skin is numb. But not here, no, I was fooled into reading the surface, but luckily I always reserve my final say for what an album for after an entire experience. I expected to find carnal spookiness here, but Streams of Blood had more to offer than I ever expected, and the translation of the title, “omnipresent,” a total reality.

  

But, sir, did you just not say you have no expectations? What is this contradiction? Let me explain, yet again. German black metal, as a whole, is terrible. For a country with such a violent and long tradition of war and self-identity crises, it almost seems impossible. The Vikings are long gone, and can Norway truly compare its own strife to that of Germany? But yet it’s always been considered such a bastion of the black and white aesthetic? Where did the Germans go wrong? I won’t get into that, you can search around yourself, the main issue that needs explained is what they get wrong, and it usually is comes down to two things: creativity and production. Far too many times have I received a submission of German black metal to find the typical aesthetic with little alteration and so lo-fi it’s below demo level. And always, always, I hear the same things when I get honest about. “It’s the aesthetic.” “You just have to get it.” “This is just the aesthetic, it’s supposed to sound that way.” “You’re just not used to the aesthetic.” The aesthetic. Ah yes, the aesthetic, like usual, is the typical excuse and method for avoiding objective criticism in German black metal. It’s a simple method for calling all negative criticism “out of the loop” by framing it as though the critic has a lack of understanding. You can’t truly understand if you’re not a part of it, and this suggests you’re not. You just don’t get it.

 

No, I do, but, again, let me say poor-quality production, covered in the all-too-typical, moth-eaten shroud of black metal tropes, like some Satanic technicolor dreamcoat, just black and white, is an excuse. There’s simply no substance. I can find any riff in static, and I can love it, but crudeness does not by virtue of being crude equal goodness. And yes, it’s possible to be objective about anything, it’s not just opinion. Some bands just don’t have the same understanding of space, scales, hooks, and presence as others, just like some painters don’t have an intuitive grasp of line, shape, and color. And that’s okay, but in German black metal you find this bizarre tendency to permit all of it to exist on the same plane of goodness because of the aesthetic. Listen, for here opinion is law, the only aesthetic any German black metal band needs to worry about, is the one Streams of Blood is expounding. Allgegenwärtig completely took me by surprise. I almost couldn’t believe it was German in origin. I thought perhaps it was a fluke, so I went through the band’s discography to find more of the same. Some just not only get it, some are born into it. These guys have completely mastered true black metal. Their theme perhaps needs a more creative edge, and with Germany’s history of war, they have plenty of inspiration, and no I don’t mean Nazism so stop, because this band is about misanthropy, the end of the human race, and that applies to any era. War has always existed, and Germany has seen its share. Nazism is too easy to use in that regard, racism risk aside. So there’s that, but in terms of musical quality, this album is simply incredible. Streams of Blood are absolute mastery of black metal. And, thankfully, it isn’t restricted to the guitars alone, which is typical. Each instrument is vital to Allgegenwärtig‘s sound. The guitars feature numerous clever hooks and turns, skill-reeking solos, the bass is vein-piercing, and the drums like a dreadful thunder, yet minus the cavernous quality that ruins one too many black metal drummers. Simply put, they get it all right. My one complaint is the vocals, which, though effective, are quite typical as a whole, but the moments when they diverge and send a surge of yes my liege through the nerves, such as the final two minutes of the last track, “Transformation,” you’ll completely understand why you should be watching this band’s rise. Seriously, jump to around 5:25 of that one. I could listen to that on loop for days. More of that vocal delivery, or similar variations thereof, would taken Streams of Blood from being the greatest German black metal band I’ve ever heard to possibly the greatest in the world. These guys are very in tune with their music, and if this particular album, as well as their previous releases, are any evidence of the future, I cannot wait.

 

Streams of Blood Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Streams of Blood: Allgegenwärtig
Folter Records
4.5 / 5

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