German black metal is not known for having a distinct sound in the way 90’s Norwegian, Greek or South American black metal is. Even so, there is at least one strain that is if not uniquely Deutsch, then at least rather common with bands from the land of Goethe and Schiller. Beginning somewhere around Nagelfar’s 1996 demo Jagd, it is a style which focuses on melancholic melodies, mainly mid-paced drumwork and fucked up vocals. With Bürde, F41.0 – named after the ICD classification of Episodic Paroxysmal Anxiety (Panic disorder) – proudly join the ranks of other comparatively recent bands such as Nemus in continuing this tradition.
What is striking when first listening to Bürde, meaning “burden”, is the sheer amount of melodic and memorable riffing. Much like early Ulver, F41.0 piles catchy hit riff upon catchy hit riff (provided you understand “hit” to mean “atmospheric black metal”, but who doesn’t?). The Ulver simile also goes further, since there are quite a few chord progressions and moods that are indeed similar to Bergtatt, even though the pacing is different here and usually slower. On their previous album, Near Life Experiences, F41.0 utilized programmed drums. Here, these have been replaced by live drums to great effect. This type of black metal, heavily dependent on its ability to bring forth atmosphere, benefits a lot from the organic sound and feeling that comes with having live drums, especially when they are executed in the rather emotional way that they are here.
The vocals are damn rabid, ranting and screaming in a way not too different from Bethlehem or perhaps Woods of Infinity. They shift in style, mind you, not least because of a host of guest vocalists. Everything from spoken word to traditional black metal shrieks is well represented, but the go-to style is raving shouts that work hand in glove with the depressive style of the music.
Having played live with bands such as Mgla, Aosoth and Nargaroth, F41.0 is more of a trve black metal band than a post-black metal one. This is also evident in the nostalgia Bürde manages to bring forth in this aging, horrible man of a reviewer – most things prefixed with “post” tend not to manage that feat. Regardless, it’s no pure journey down memory lane: synthesizers are used somewhat differently than would be expected from classic 2nd wave BM bands, the vocals are often processed in strange ways and there are more than a few slightly more progressive passages.
F41.0 do atmospheric black metal in the German atmospheric black metal way, but stamp the style with their own distinct imprint. Aggressive and sad, melancholic and rabid, Bürde is an intense experience which is as effective in the comfort of your own home as it is on a boom box brought along for a drunken sojourn in the woods with old baleful black metal buds. The CD is available from Geisterasche, either by itself or in a T-shirt and patch bundle for men or for women.