I came to this album without any knowledge of the band and therefore no preconceptions. Having not heard Endstille's stuff before I had no idea what to expect. The album cover implies German wartime butchery. The album title, Verfuhrer, apparently means "seducer", although one online translator gave me "leader" and another said it translated as "verfuhrer" - thanks a fucking lot for your help.
Anyway, the band, according to their MySpace site, "plays ugliest aggressive Black-Metal with the fire rate of a MG42 and the power of heavy ship-artillery." Their profile says, "Welcome to ENDSTILLES REICH". So yeah, pretty obsessed with all things warlike, and something of a right wing agenda appears to be on display. However, the band claims that black metal "is in its principle unpolitical". What a load of bollocks. So already I'm a bit unsure what to think of these guys; though German bands often have that effect on me. So why not let the album speak for itself?
The opening track, Alteration Of Roots, fires off at quite a pace, and that pace is maintained until things ease out a bit with track four, Depressive/Abstract/Banished/Despised (the track they couldn't settle on a name for). The pace picks up again during that track and the whole album is pretty furious, as you'd expect. The sound is clearly black, the vocals gutteral and powerful. The drums sound a bit tin-pot through most of the album: quite flat in places. On some tracks they come through better, but they're often a bit weak. Which is a shame, because the quality of the drumming from Mayhemic Destructor (yes, apparently that's his name) is pretty good - it's just the sound in the recording that's weak. I thought the bass was a bit too low in the mix too, but the whole guitar and bass combo of L Wachtfels and Cruor is a powerful, muddy blur anyway, and that works for these guys.
There are some distinctly amateurish moments on the album. Between track 5, Monotonus N, and track 6, Symptoms, there's a weird bit of changeover. Monotonus N fades out into a scratchy vinyl recording of something quite classical sounding, then it just cuts mid-note and Symptoms crashes out back at full pace. It sounds like they messed up and cut off track five too early, instead of the change they were probably intending to make. Weird.
Symptoms does change the pace again mid-way and there's some good driving sound with a slower vocal and musical content that works nicely before the speed picks up again. Some changes like this work quite well, although vocallist Iblis does sound like his throat has been cut right at the end. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing.
Track eight, Dead, cuts with a full minute of scratchy vinyl at the finish that sounds like the soundtrack to a 1950s war movie, which is quite possibly what it is, before the final track, Endstille (Verfuhrer), kicks in and wraps everything up as fast and hard as possible.
This band is the sort of thing that will have a core set of dedicated fans and most other people will be content to take it or leave it. If you like your black metal and/or you have a penchant for German bands with a war fixation, this is definitely worth a listen. But don't expect to be blown away. Ironic really, given how much they talk about guns and artillery.
Endstille's Verfuhrer is out now on Regain/Riot.