Waldgeflüster – “Der Traumschänder”

We’re in the midst of a golden era for atmospheric black metal, when bands like Agalloch, Fluisteraars, Winterfylleth, Sivyj Yar, and Panopticon are reliably churning out masterpieces every couple of years. Some of those bands are better known than others, but they should all be on your radar — each possesses the incredible ability to orchestrate acoustic-laced triumphs that soar high above any windswept snowscape. Waldgeflüster, from Germany, are another one to add to your list. The band put out a very strong album back in 2014, and now returns with elevated game to deliver the stunning “Der Traumschände,” which is the opening track off a forthcoming split with none other than Austin Lunn’s Panopticon, the band that released our #1 metal album of 2015.

If we are talking black metal epics, “Der Traumschänder” is what we’re looking for. The song is a whirlwind of sustained emotional toil and triumph. Full-tilt blasting drums and trilling guitars are the song’s backbone, with a fiddle that weaves in and out, in a nod to Mr. Lunn, who has notably used that instrument and others like banjo and flute in his uniquely American take on black metal that is more evocative of Appalachian hills than icy fjords. The vocal delivery on this song is incredible, and the searing choruses are both pained and euphoric — there are often dual vocal tracks, one desperate and clean and the other a hoarse scream. “Der Traumschänder” isn’t pedal to the metal from start to finish — a meandering lull breaks the early rush before the monumental conclusion. Give it a listen, it’s fantastic.

As for how this split came to be, which will set an early bar for the format this year: As Waldgeflüster’s main man Winterherz tells it (the band was a solo project until 2014), he met Lunn in Norway back in 2011, and they got very drunk together. Talent recognized talent, they became fast friends, and that very night decided to do a split together (a drunken proposal that isn’t uncommon, apparently). Anyway, we now all benefit from that liquid bond, as “Der Traumschände” is remarkable and essential listening. Look forward to Mr. Lunn’s incredible contribution to the split soon.

The Panopticon and Waldgeflüster split is out on 3/11 via Nordvis and Bindrune Recordings.