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Thunderkraft: Totentanz

In other reviews, I've sometimes commented on the hybrid nature of newer heavy metal bands. This is not a new idea, but it is one that, I think, captures what so many bands are trying to do these days. It used to be easy to call bands by easy labels like "Thrash" or "Hair Metal" or even "Power Metal." Such titles, though, are no longer capable of describing what some bands are doing. Take, for instance, Thunderkraft, a Ukranian band that describes itself as Industrial Folk Death Black Metal. After listening to Totentanz, I think this description is probably right. This is music that experiments with a larger variety of sounds than other bands. They incorporate so many sound textures and instruments that the overall result can't be classified by conventional labels. Does it work? Sometimes, but listeners will want to listen through it a few times before passing judgment. I admire their experimentation, but would have liked things to fit together a little differently.

Even though Thunderkraft provides a track list in English, the lyrics on Totentanz are in Ukrainian, Russian, and German. Though I don't speak or read these languages, I was impressed with the way songs like "Death Won't Separate Us" effectively captured the sorrow of losing a loved one and the hope that love endures beyond mortality. Listen, especially, to the guitar solos on this track for its almost-bluesy feel. This was a lovely song that made the most of the contrast between the vocal style of Master Alafern and the band's more hybrid lines and melodies to create a song trying to make sense of human suffering and loss.

Listeners will also want to check out the beautiful flute melodies in "Toward a New Dawn." It is impressive to hear the way several band members bring in instruments like the violin and the flute to widen the palate of sound beyond the conventional combination of guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums. I was frankly surprised to hear all these instruments working together, especially on mellower songs. There's a lot of talent in this band. I was disappointed, however, that the singer didn't expand his vocal range a little more often--with all the folk and classical inspired sounds at play here, I would think he would want to blend clean and dirty vocals to convey different emotions. His deep-throated growl is tinged with anger, but needs to discover what else it can do. At times it sounds out of place, as in the closing track "The Creator of Life."

I enjoyed listening to Totentanz generally. Listeners will want to keep in mind that it is anything but conventional metal-oriented music. I definitely wouldn't suggest it as an introduction to folk metal for new listeners. This is a recording best appreciated by those who want to know what creative people are doing to reach beyond blending folk melodies and rhythms into death metal. The result is a decidedly mixed blessing, but worth some attention. I'm curious to see where Thunderkraft will take us in the coming years.

Track Listing:
1. A Time Will Come
2. Mass Defect
3. Dance of the Dead
4. Death Won't Separate Us
5. The Future World
6. A Crumpled Story
7. Where the Dream Flows As Moisture from Eyelashes
8. Towards a New Dawn
9. The Creator of Life

Added: February 4th 2012
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Myspace Page
Hits: 2695
Language: english

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