Thunderkraft: Totentanz

Uh oh, yep, that's right, that's a panzer on the cover.  And you know what that usually means, it's not bringing an ounce of power, if anything it's an Italian WWII tank you can take out by shoving a broom handle in its wheels.  Tank, generally, equals horrible when it comes to any style of metal.  Look at something like Panzer Division Marduk or, one year prior, Angelcorpse's Exterminate.  Strangely they both seem to have the same thing going for them; they open with an awesome riff and then it all goes to Hell, but it doesn't even deserve to be there so it gets thrown out into limbo.  So, we tend to stay away from tanks around here, tanks are bad, tanks are symbolically bad.  Imagine our fear when we caught the cover of this one, Totentanz.  A Ukrainian band using German for the title that consider themselves like six different genres of metal at once with a tank on the front cover?!  Can't be good.  Well, surprisingly, you'd be kind of wrong to say that.  Let's imagine the tank to be symbolic of the crappy music usually associated with tank covers, and just as you find the image of it on the cover of Totentanz indiscernible at first, it's there, and it has something of an effect.  Not enough for pure hate, thankfully, there's something to be found in this release.  Thunderkraft have created an interesting album, it bridges several genres at once, which at times works to their advantage, and at other times it's like the kitchen sink approach, everything just thrown in there without really thinking about it.

 

A Crumpled Story from Thunderkraft on Myspace.

 

Thunderkraft consist of members with their fingers in a number of bands, including Svyatogor and Nokturnal Mortum, so you have a little of that in here, a little of that folk/pagan vibe, but mixed with black/death metal and even a bit of industrial, as they say right in their press release.  And they've tried to take a wider approach with Totentanz.  Their previous release was written in Cyrillic, making it inaccessible to most, with imagery clearly Slavic.  Here, with Totentanz, any Cyrillic provided in the track listing is doubled with English translations, and the imagery has more of a universal appeal.  Hey, there are tanks everywhere in the civilized world, everyone knows what a tank is.   A little different than a scene of pagan battle slaughter in the fields near the Volga.  But yes, it is a tank, so be warned.

 

Actually, not warned that much, we have a little reservation about that warning, specifically because Totentanz has a strange charm to it, there's oddly something you'll likely get out of this with or without the tank.  Thunderkraft actually have some pretty inventive moments in this release, several points that were worth more than one listen to fully grasp.  At times, they go into some awesome black metal tremolo with harsh screams, and then break down into militaristic marches with keyboards that, though on the surface shabby, manage to capture your attention, and perhaps a little of your heart.  Aw, how cute are we?  Back to the tank.  So, there's a lot to be found in this unusual release, some of the combined power of the keyboard sweeps harmonically intertwined with the riffs works, but at other times Thunderkraft loses their flow.  There is an unusual tendency here to go from an all-out mix of everything possible, to the boring.  Throughout listening to Totentanz you'll find yourself entering rising power that cascades down again and, well, gets pretty dry.  They can switch genre with no problem, you won't find a seam at all in their stitching, but then and again there's just something stale about some of their writing, like certain moments they gave it their all, kept going, got bored with it, but finished it off anyway.  However, there are several beauties in here with interesting, fresh combinations, such as "A Crumpled Story," suggesting that Thunderkraft might have something here, if they remove the tanks on the surface and hiding within.  For those aspects, tanks but no tanks.  See how we go from cute to clever?  Genius.

 

Thunderkraft Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Thunderkraft: Totentanz
Svarga Music
3.5 / 5