Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Krieg: The Isolationist (2010)


Krieg's sixth full-length (and first since 2006) got a lot of attention in end-of-year lists, so I decided to check out The Isolationist.

IsolationistKrieg is from New Jersey, and is essentially the one-man project of Imperial, a guy who looks like you might expect any metal dude from Jersey to look. Ironically given its title, The Isolationist employs a number of other musicians.

The sound is appropriately American-style black metal, a bit like a slower and scarier version of earlier Nachtmystium (see "Blue of Noon") with a taste of Cobalt (see "...And the Stars Fell On"). It's urban-sounding and lonely, misanthropic in a way that only those who are surrounded by too many people can be. Usually the drums are going at a faster pace and the guitars at mid-pace; an extreme example of this is the opening riff of "Photographs from an Asylum", with one note for every eight beats. The vocals are very harsh rasp/screeches, and the bass is noticeable but unimportant except in a couple places.

Some of the album is forgettable (like "Decaying Inhalations") or "Remission"), but when Krieg tries something different it really works. "All Paths to God" has a great dissonant riff that breaks things up, and "Ambergeist" has a punk rhythm to it. "Depakote" is structured like a palindrome with its opening Cobalt-esque riff, straight-up USBM, then minimalistic drumming with screams before going back to USBM and ending on the Cobalt riff again.

In a few places the experimentation takes the music to dull places, as when they go to minimalist drumming with sound effects on "Religion III", and when they don't experiment at all it just blends in and becomes utterly forgettable. And there's simply too much of both of these to make the album a standout.

The Verdict: Certainly overrated by the metal press, but not bad by any measure. It has a fair measure of experimentation that works, but gets bogged down by too many boring parts. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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