Valborg – “Werwolf”

Valborg – “Werwolf”

Valborg are an unusual band, and they’re closely associated with one of metal’s most singular entities — Zeitgeister Music, a German boutique label that largely handles projects associated with its owner, Florian Toyka, and his frequent collaborator Christian Kolf. That pairing makes for more band than you would think; Toyka and Kolf have worked on five(!) of ‘em together, including Valborg, and each guy has been involved in other Zeitgeister projects as well.

Valborg’s probably the best-known band of the Zeitgeister set, and for good reason. At their core, they’re a death/doom metal band, with oddball gothic overtones that have earned them flattering comparisons to ’80s metal tropemakers Celtic Frost and successors Triptykon. But Valborg is also a moving target, and their restlessness has taken them to some strange places lately. 2015’s Romantik, for instance, bore metal markings only occasionally; instead, it expended most of its energy on disquieting synth ambience and minimal rhythms.

This year’s two-track Werwolf EP walks back a lot of that stylistic drift. Written before Romantik and frequently played live prior to its recording, it’s a clear-cut death metal effort in the vein of earlier Valborg albums like Crown Of Sorrow. The band’s chilly atmospherics remain, but these songs focus squarely on Kolf’s insanely meaty riffs. That’s a good thing — these guys are better than any other active band at this niche approach, and it’s thrilling to hear them dig into grooves in their characteristically muscular fashion. Its first cut, “Ich Bin Total,” premiered several weeks ago; listen to the accompanying title track below.

Werwolf will be out 9/23 via Temple of Tortuous (rather than Zeitgeister, strangely).

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