Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand – Sucht & Ordnung

Many who are aware of Albin Julius’ Der Blutharsch may associate it primarily with martial ambient and industrial, and think of it as a project deeply entwined in the neofolk scene, heavy on the controversy. Things look and sound a little different for those who have followed along for the ride in the past ten years or so (time truly is the enemy, or at least it flies so fast it’s obvious it doesn’t particularly like most of us). Beginning in the early to mid 2000s, Der Blutharsch have developed further and further into a very peculiar form of stoner/psych rock under the moniker of Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand. Sucht & Ordnung is the latest studio full length from the constellation – since many years a fully fledged band, rather than a solo project.

The album contains but small hints of the Der Blutharsch of old. The title of the album is an obvious such reference, in the form of a playful wordgame – “Zucht und Ordnung” would mean “Discipline and Order”, whereas “Sucht” means addiction or obsession. Perhaps it is no wild guess to assume that this particular choice of album name aims to reflect the band’s development. The psychedelic robot appearing in various forms in the artwork of the CD and LP is also adorned by an equally psychedelic little Iron Cross. Apart from these nudge-nudge details, no-one need fear or seek controversy when listening to Sucht & Ordnung.

What you can seek and/or fear here is a super-cool form of stoner/psychedelic rock. Fuzzy guitars, Hammond organ, various effects and pedals, psych guitar solos, and even a brief assault of blast beats. The use of vocals is sparse, but includes female spoken word in thickly Österreichisches Deutsch, and some singing in English from the same vocalist. If the electronic/sample based roots of DBATICOTLH show anywhere, it’s probably in the very catchy rhythmic structure of the songs. Most stoner bands will have a more dragging, sludgy foundation, and in psychedelic rock crazy and varied tempos are not uncommon. On Sucht & Ordning we instead get an upbeat, focused and comparatively constant percussion and tempo.

The album is made up by three tracks: the untitled first one goes for a surf music drum beat with semi-oriental, folky guitar work somehow bringing to mind Therion’s seminal Theli. Track two (also untitled) has a slower, slightly darker sound. While the stoner is there, there is also a distinct metal flavor to this one – Darkthrone’s “Quintessence” covered in 70’s rock and a hint of melancholic sadness, perhaps? The last piece of music stays as untitled as the others, but is also perhaps the most impressive one. After an intro, a foot-stomping drum beat gets going, along with guitars and an ever shifting series of sounds and instruments. Direct references don’t spring to mind here, but there is more than a little of The Doors in this 14 minute epic. The last few minutes of the track are, for whatever reason, silent.

I imagine that Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand have confused many former fans and detractors alike, but that is really beside the point. Sucht & Ordnung is a splendid piece of strangely compelling psych/stoner that stands on its own seven hundred and seventy seven feet, and should be enjoyed by anyone into rock music leaving rock music behind.

It is available on CD, two different colors of vinyl, digital download and T-shirt from the band’s Bandcamp page.

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