Do you wake up ever so often and think to yourself: “I wish I had a black metal album whose lyrics explored what it would be like to unwillingly become a tree”? Most of us probably do, and we shouldn’t let the political and social turmoil of our time steal our attention away from what really matters. Germany’s Nemus, self described “Atmospheric Post-Black Metal”, have stepped up to the plate and delivered with Wald – Mensch.
I shan’t ruminate on what happens in my belly upon hearing the term “post-black metal”, but rather focus on the actual music at hand. It’s competent stuff, no doubt, and at least in a musical sense there is very little “post” about Wald – Mensch. The music of Nemus’ compatriots Nagelfar spring immediately to mind in many a rabidly mourning passage, as do Urfaust’s less experimental works and Forgotten Woods’ earlier escapades. There is also more than a little of Woods of Infinity in the vocal style and overall musical mood, though far less gross sex, humour or controversy. Granted, there are some progressive elements, but there’s nothing “post” about that – we’ve had Ved Buens Ende and Fleurety since before the 2nd wave of black metal even peaked.
The thematic lyrics deal with exactly what I implied a mere paragraph ago: a man goes out to rest in the woods in a way probably quite common to many black metal fans, is dragged into the earth and reincarnated as a tree in a way probably quite uncommon to most people. I’m not sure what to make of them. They are well written, though Goethe they are not, and serve their purpose. In fact, they work together with the music far better than perhaps most black metal lyrics, and when the protagonist desperately and/or triumphantly notes that he’s rooting himself (“Ich schlage Würzeln!”) it’s outright catchy. Passages like this come on a regular basis, and many of the tracks would be great in front of a drunken live audience that knew the lyrics by heart.
This conceptual idea might be too strange or stupid for some (maybe for me too), but in its defense should be noted that it has served to create a conceptually and aesthetically solid album. If that isn’t defense enough, you won’t have to deal with it at all unless you understand at least basic German. The music should make anyone who likes melodic, atmospheric black metal without too much synthesizer, overproduction or other bells and whistles really happy. The more I listen to this one, the more I like it, and had I not seen that “post” tag in the promo I would probably have warmed to it sooner. Whatever happened to inventing new sub-genres to prove your individualism? Wood-Becoming Metal, Schwarzwald Sein Metal? The possibilities are endless.
Regardless: Wald – Mensch is available for digital download for 5 Euro from Bandcamp, but should of course be picked up by a label as soon as humanly/treemanly possible. If this isn’t fit for a release on green vinyl, I don’t know what is.