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Die graue Saat (1996)

Forming in Thuringia, Germany in 1993, Wolfsmond joined the growing ranks of the second wave black metal bands. Rather than mimic their neighbors to the north, they brought their own unique approach to things. The music on their second demo, entitled Die graue Saat, is very dark, hateful and somber in tone. Released in 1996, this is a good representation of the murky wold of German black metal, at this time. Also worth noting is that, while the band shares some members with Absurd, they make a point to distance themselves from the latter's ideology, as it regards this project.

The first song, "Ich sah dich fallen", starts with an eerie intro that has the feeling of shadows spreading over you. The first riffs are, somehow, similar to Mayhem's Deathcrush, yet slower and more dreary. The vocals are very hateful, as you can feel it in your bones. There is nothing beautiful about this. It's ugly and harsh. The pace picks up, just a little bit, as things progress. The production is about what one would expect from a cassette demo from this period. It's on the same level as some of the Moonblood stuff, more or less. It's clear enough to pick up on what's going on, and far from distracting. Near the middle, there's a mournful melody that is almost reminiscent of something from early Katatonia, regarding the vibe it creates. Near the end, Managarm emits some truly blood-curdling screams. The hatred oozes from the speakers.

"Zeit der Macht" begins with another mid-paced, miserable riff. The feeling is not so far removed from the oppressive and claustrophobic atmosphere of Bethlehem's Dark Metal. The vibe goes from near-melancholy to something more doom-filled and dreadful. This isn't so much the expression of a tormented being; rather, this is the cause. There's almost an epic feeling, as the song progresses, but the production doesn't allow for certain riffs to shine through as much as they might, otherwise. Furthermore, the band doesn't really bother to expand on this.

The next song is "The Arsonist's Dream", which again brings to mind the early work of Katatonia and Bethlehem. It consists of clean guitar notes and some distant vocals, with the sound of raging flames and cold winds in the background. One has to wonder whether or not this is some tribute to the churches that perished by fire in the preceding years.

"Your god is dead"

The final song is "Die graue Saat". It begins with a clean guitar, similar to that used on the previous piece. There seems to be some thunder in the background, though it's not very clear. After a minute or so, the song truly starts. As with the rest of the material, it's mid-paced and bleak in nature. There's very little of what one would label 'typical' black metal picking on this release. It is mostly made up of power chords and simple progressions. This is definitely not about impressing anyone with technique; it's primitive and ugly. The true purpose of this recording is to create a dark atmosphere and convey feelings of hatred and misanthropy. It oppresses the spirit of the listener, and you almost feel as if there is a weight on your chest. Breathing becomes more difficult and you think of this wretched life that you've been cursed with. The hatred builds within you, more and more. The tremolo riffs make a brief appearance, used to build a sense of tension. Just when you think that you'll finally burst into flames of hatred and despondency, the pace slows back down and takes you to yet a darker level of the abyss. This cycle then repeats, building the intensity and then dropping you yet deeper. The thunder returns as the song then fades.

Die graue Saat is, possibly, not a very well-known piece of black metal. However, it's some hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. Here, Wolfsmond created something dark and possessing a great deal of feeling. Seek this out, in whatever manner you may.
(22 Dec. 2009)

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