Der Weg Einer Freiheit – “Requiem” (Stereogum Premiere)

Der Weg Einer Freiheit (translated: “The Way of Freedom”) are a German black metal band that formed in 2008. In a blind taste test, though, I’d have guessed that they formed in Sweden circa 1994. That particular time and place gave rise to a lot of metal niches, but the one I’m thinking of here is a frigid, propulsive brand of black metal that eschews minimalism in favor of clarity, death metal-ish force, and the kind of absurdly majestic melodies that might get you psyched up for an intense cross-country skiing session. Popularized by the likes of Dissection, Dawn, Sacramentum, and many other bands that were fond of blue-and-purple album covers, this style occasionally gets called “melodic black metal” — which is confusing, since virtually all black metal is at least somewhat melodic. That’s metal subgenre terminology for you, though.

Anyhow, this type of thing is near and dear to my heart. It’s largely fallen out of favor with younger bands, but a handful of talented upstarts still practice it — Astrophobos and Thulcandra come to mind. Der Weg Einer Freiheit ply the trade too, and their upcoming third LP, Stellar, is as fine a specimen of hi-fi icewinds as you’re likely to encounter these days. The sequence running from 1:30 until roughly 4:40 in “Requiem” is just devastating; drummer Tobias Schuler’s blasts hit so hard that you find yourself leaning toward the speakers for fear of being bowled over, while the glass-cutter guitars slice out sheets of somber harmony that befit the song’s title. “Requiem” isn’t all throwback; it opens and closes with an uncharacteristic dirge that showcases vocalist Nikita Kamprad’s passionate delivery, and eventually collapses into a serene, lightly orchestral coda. But on the whole, it’s what a music writer would call “an outstanding triumph of execution,” and a normal person would call “a really fun black metal tune with great riffs.” Listen.

Stellar is out 3/24 via Season Of Mist.