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Ellende’s Deathly Climactic Black Metal Shines on “Lebensnehmer”


If four chapters of Insidious are any indication, out-of-body experiences are a phenomenon from which many of us cannot turn away — and why would we when it’s like a game of roulette for the mind? Personally, the last time I conducted a lucid dream meditation before bed, I met YouTuber Contrapoints and asked if she wanted to go shopping at TJ Maxx together (name a better way to spend an afternoon). However, if you are interested in exploring a more existential separation between soul and skeleton, you’re in luck: Austria’s Ellende is dropping a new full-length titled Lebensnehmer. Cultivated by the hands of all-instrumentalist L.G. but brought to life through a dedicated team of session artists, Lebensnehmer is an atmospheric experience equal parts contemplative and adventurous.

The word “ellende,” adapted from Middle High German, essentially means “exile.” These semantics have come to take subtle form in the artwork of Ellende’s most recent records (all designed by L.G.) — with a soul long since banished, a bare and vulnerable skeleton remains to make music, or perhaps tend to a fallen friend. The former scenario set the tone for 2016’s full-length Todbringer (chances are you have stumbled across it at least once in the atmospheric black metal realm of YouTube). Racking up critical acclaim and tens of thousands of views, Todbringer demonstrates that Ellende is bringing a unique perspective to the table that is worth watching. Despite an identity seemingly tied to black metal, long strides are made from any tired tropes, keeping the bones of traditional principles, but spinning them into gold through a post-rock edge.

Lebensnehmer carries on Todbringer’s legacy by mastering the art of the gradual build. The album’s intro features piano strokes that blossom into orchestral-like grace into until the rip of guitar begins to cut through like a slow-motion arrow through fog. Blast beats are introduced, but they refrain from building a soundwall; rather, mid-tempo drumming serves as the palatable backdrop for gripping guitar contributions. “Liebkosung des Eiswinds,” the sixth installment in the eight-track journey, is ripe with starry synth marked with arrhythmic chimes. Ellende has taken us one step further into the astral plane, but unlike other dark expressions who have led us down such a path, this one doesn’t end in a sinister place. A vaguely trap-style beat is interjected to solidify Ellende’s place as a progressive-minded project that isn’t afraid to wander into different realms, which are ultimate left with the polite piano strokes with which it came.

Check out an exclusive full stream of Lebensnehmer below.

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Lebensnehmer releases on March 29 via AOP. Follow Ellende on Facebook.

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