I know there are these obvious things we writers are supposed to say about Neill Jameson when we write about his music. But excuse me if I don’t go that way. Let’s concentrate on the matter at hand, that being his longtime black metal band Krieg and their tremendous new record “Transient.” If you want to read about other stuff, might I direct you to Google and the millions of other scribes writing the same goddamn things?
It’s been four years since we got a full-length effort from Krieg, that being 2010’s “The Isolationist.” Not like the band has been silent, especially this year with a slew of mini releases that include a couple of EP-length offerings and splits alongside Wolvhammer, Ramlord, and Moloch. But a full document from the band is something altogether different, and this one’s a damn fun one. Yeah, that’s right. Fun. Not that there weren’t torment and black thoughts that had a bit to do with the creative process, but the music itself kicks your ass and gets inside of you. This is as close as I’ll get to unearthing any drama Jameson has experienced, but his work here with Krieg sounds like what Nachtmystium have been trying to achieve. There’s a kick-ass rock and roll vibe to their infernal black metal, and it sounds like it’s breaking the chains of genre boundaries and expectations and just going for it. I’m a big fan of Krieg’s entire catalog, but this record is one that makes me feel alive and brimming with energy.
The 11-track, 56-minute bruiser that is “Transient” is a true group effort, not that others haven’t been. But this one really feels like all of the forces coming together, and not just Jameson (or Imperial, as he goes by here), but also guitarists A. Poole (Chaos Moon, Esoterica) and D. Zdanavage (Castle Freak); bassist D. Sykes (Occult 45); drummer J. Dost (Invasive Command, Occult 45); and programmer Diabolus (Vrolok, Nod, etc.). Many times with past Krieg records, I’ve gone one listen and done because they have been so scarring and furious, you need time to reflect and recover. But this record is just so damn listenable and raucous, I usually find myself repeating once these 11 songs run out. Don’t get me wrong, there still is a ton of darkness. It’s just presented in a different way, in a manner where Jameson and the band feel so damn alive.
“Order of the Solitary Road” is your opener, and it lets noise hang in the air before dark riffs torch its face off and harsh growls carry the day. There is some melody that’s allowed to mature, something that’s a hallmark of this record, and the track ends with a killer groove that’ll bruise your eyes. “Circling the Drain” sounds depressing as hell from its title, but musically it’s a charge of speedy metal, outright punishment, and vocals that sound programmed to maim. There’s a bit of calm at one point, but that’s blown away by some final moments of aggression. “Return Fire” is blistering and monstrous, living up to its name through and through, and while there are some atmospheric parts that let you breathe, for the most part it’s pure demolition. “To Speak With Ghosts” has a haunting open, and the pace is channeled, deliberately harsh, and altogether pummeling. “Atlas With a Broken Arm” explodes on impact, with vicious growls, a storming pace, and drums that could leave you a pile of powder. There are some harsh shrieks, a pace that lets the chaos swell, and animalistic mashing that ends the song on the perfect brutal note.
“Time” gives you no chance to prepare, as it breaks open and starts its mauling immediately. It’s a weird, dizzying piece, with the music shaking you to and fro, maybe even giving you a sense of nausea before it’s all over. “Winter” is a great take on the Amebix track, one of my favorites on the album, as it reminds me a bit of Tombs’ latest work, but only in presentation. The guitars are chilled and frostbitten, the vocals are barked with authority, and the drums are absolutely thunderous throughout this one. “Walk With Them” is flushed with melody, harsh growls, and moody playing, with more post-punk essence coming into play. “Ruin Our Lives” is pretty different, with the tempo playing games with you mind and the electronics coming in and giving the song something of an alien feel. The music is stormy and settles into a mid-tempo, almost like a black cloud stationed overhead, and only once it breaks from that static headspace does it launch into full-throttle violence. “Home” will arrest you. Over noise, whirring dust, and damaged acoustics, Jameson waxes poetic, speaking—not screaming or growling—about the darkness in his life, his past, each turn he takes, and what’s inside of him. Hell, at times it sounds like a suicide note, remembering something that used to be there, isn’t now, and the decision as to what to do with that. “Surviving just seems like a chore,” he admits, something I’m sure we’ve all felt at times, while the music kicks up smoke and makes the whole scene surreal and sobering. It’s a piece I’ve gone back to numerous times, and with each listen, I find it impacts me in a different way. Closer “Gospel Hand” brings back the outright aggression and decibolic fury, with punishing, angry music, vocals that match it perfectly, staggering sweltering, and noise that bubbles you in poisonous lather. It’s really the perfect ending. It’s a final explosion that should leave you in the dust.
Krieg remains one of the U.S.’s most interesting, challenging metal bands, and Jameson never seems content to just sit there and collect accolades. He pushes things, and with the band he has assembled for “Transient,” he’s found kindred spirits who seem to have the same ideas in mind. This is a punishing record, a dark statement, but also one that just bursts with power and organic energy. This is a great curve in the road for Krieg, one that should drive the band into new, previously undiscovered terrain most bands are afraid to walk.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/officialkrieg
To buy the album go here: http://candlelightrecordsusa.com/site/
For more on the label, go here: http://candlelightrecordsusa.com/site/