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Krieg - The Isolationist
Review: That black metal became a form of indie rock surprises few, since black metal first hybridized with basic punk, and indie emerged from punk; ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny -- however, Krieg reverses the path with The Isolationist by going back to the influences of original black metal even while adopting a thoroughly post-rock aesthetic, like Jesu trying to re-envision Blasphemy.
Compositionally possessing more in common with early electronic body music (EBM) and synthpop than the melange of indie rock and modern hardcore that is most "post-rock," this album creates vast spaces out of plodding beats and melodic hooks using dissonant chords and as few notes as possible. Riffs are atmospheric by the nature of strumming chords in in blocks to achieve a transition significant in the harmonic context of the song, adopting technique but not songwriting style from atmospheric rock like Velvet Underground or 13th Floor Elevators and modern hardcore like Integrity or Neurosis.
The metal craft of sculpting phrasal riffs and gluing them together in extended grammars as a result appears less here because as in very slow doom or post-metal, riffs are here to fill time with resonant sound, not make phrases out of it; however, the result is a slow building intensity of noise built around the kind of black metal pop that Krieg pioneered with "Cold Wind Flame" and other songs that bind the blistering and the catchy. The result sweeps up all of the charged potential in its atmosphere and funnels it through a memorable phrase, burning it in our heads like an electroshock meme.
By finding a balance between the raw chaos and a desire to make more hummable songs through applying the techniques of post-rock in a more significant context, Krieg finds its healthiest direction since the live album in that these songs fit together smoothly and sustain atmosphere without falling into directionless repetition. Were the influences of post-metal/post-rock removed, we might see this album as a more mature version of the first neo-improv Krieg release, Rise of the Imperial Hordes.