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Klabautamann: Our Journey Through The Woods (Re-release)

When last did you hear a 12-string guitar played on a metal album? Or death growls over an acoustic guitar?

German Klabautamann is a two-man project that calls their music " Folk Black Metal". A good description - it's black metal interspersed with an abundance of excellent acoustic passages, yielding a complex piece of metal that will rivet your attention through all of its 51 minutes.  The vocals are death metal growls and the guitar-driven music features complex arrangements running from excellent clean acoustic guitar work through stock-standard death/black metal chord progressions, and several formats between those extremes.

This style of music isn't necessarily ground-breaking- although this is the sub-genre that's advancing today's music more aggressively than any of the other progressive music styles. Klabautamann shares this format with acts like Green Carnation, Agalloch, Disillusion, and others. Opeth loosely falls into this category too - though the style is rather different.

Our Journey Through The Woods Starts and ends with sounds of footsteps through the woods, and thematically, the record is a cross between the Lord Of The Rings and Beethoven's 6th symphony. The Tolkienesque references are found in songs like "Trolldance", "Seaghost" and "Tower of Sorcery", whereas the Pastorale symphony also describes a man's walk through the woods. And the band's name? "Klabautamann" is a deliberately loose spelling of the German "Klabautermann", a mythological merry and very musical water sprite who helps sailors and fishermen in their duties, rescues sailors washed overboard, and predicts shipwrecks.

The heavier tracks like "Seaghost" are standard death metal at the base, with melodic acoustic instrumentation floating over the top. Very appealing. "Elfentanz" showcases the excellent musicianship with three minutes of elegant dual classical guitars with spacey electronic keys in the background, then dives violently into "Tower of Sorcery" - which is pure brutal, classic death-metal. "Spring Morning Sun" is a prime example of the band's trademark shifts from death to perfectly clean music and back in the same song, and "Autumn's Breath" features a wonderful passage with clean acoustic guitars with a distorted electric guitar way back in the mix, which then comes to the fore when the tempo shifts to a harder style. The music is atmospheric, organic, well arranged, and a damned fine listen.

Our Journey Through The Woods Starts was recorded in 2001 and 2002, and this re-release comes courtesy of their new label Vendlus Records, which has "...never taken a dime from any [record] sales for our own personal use. We have worked for free for the label since it's inception". Vendlus Records, along with Klabautamann, deserve success - and they deserve your support.


Track Listing:
Intro: Walking through Twilight
Der Nöck
Tower of Sorcery
This Place
Spring Morning Sun
Autumn's Breath
Total playing time

Added: July 31st 2008
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: The Band's Website
Hits: 2617
Language: english

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Klabautamann: Our Journey Through The Woods (Re-release)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-07-31 10:07:20
My Score:

Originally recorded in 2001-2002, Our Journey Through The Woods, an excellent atmospheric, folky black metal album from Germany's Klabautamann, is now being re-issued by their new label, Vendlus Records, so if you missed this little gem the first time around, now's the time to dig in and enjoy it. Though you can hear little bits of Enslaved, Woods of Ypres, Primordial, even a touch of Opeth at times (mainly due to the intelligent acoustic passages), Klabautamann are for the most part fairly unique sounding, especially when you consider that the band consists of two members, Florian Toyka (guitars, bass) and Tim Steffens (guitars, bass, vocals), with drums played by sesssion man Marlon Drescher. Vocals by Steffens are a mix of black metal shrieks along with some lower register death metal growls, and are very good, but it's the varied guitar flavors here that are really the key to Our Journey Through The Woods' success. The two weave all sorts of tapestries throughout this release, from thunderous black metal freakouts, to more progressive/folky acoustic passages dripping with melody. It's when they combine the two (something both Opeth and Enslaved do so well) that magic really happens, like on the awesome "Rabenmorgen", which is as good a progressive black metal track as you are going to hear. The sound is so layered throughout, so rich, that you can't help but be pulled in by their intoxicating spell. Even at their most savage, as on "Tower of Sorcery" and "This Place", this band throws plenty of complex passages and arragements at the listener. Wild stuff.

Hard not to give this 'two-thumbs-up', as there's plenty of brutality here, yet also heaping amounts of melody, folky flavor, and progressive leanings. Here's hoping we see more from these guys in the near future.

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