By Dr. Abner Mality
In the history of warfare, no battle was deadlier, more chaotic and more hellish than the Battle of the Somme in World War 1. Casualties were tabulated at more than a million and this grueling conflict rewrote the rules of war. “Feuerwalze”, the latest album of American black metal force MINENWERFER, is a concept album dealing with The Somme.
This album SOUNDS like all-out warfare. Fast, savage, chaotic yet militant, this is trench war given aural form. World War I is no longer an unusual subject for a metal band...GOD DETHRONED, 1914 and even IRON MAIDEN have dealt extensively with it...but it’s fair to say MINENWERFER are the most extreme. This bloody battle deserves nothing less. At first glance, the 7 tracks making up “Feuerwalze” seem to be a cyclonic racket...and make no mistake, the album is a very exhausting listen...but careful attention to detail shows that MINENWERFER have put a lot of thought into it and each of the tracks has its own unique character.
Ferocious black metal in the style of “Panzer Division”-era MARDUK and full-blast GORGOROTH is the foundation of the band. The drums are a relentless booming artillery assault and the guitar sound is often blurry and hazy. But the lead guitar soloing is surprisingly melodic and inventive, best heard on the title track and “Eternal Attrition”. It is almost “shredding” and on the end of “Shrapnel Exsanguination”, it literally sounds like the claws of a wild beast tearing you apart. Speaking of which, that track emerges as my favorite, with more of a menacing, stalking feel at times that is almost death metalish. There’s an almost technical approach to the riffing here, but more in the black metal style rather than death metal.
As for the vocals, they are some of the most deep fried and horrific troll screams you are likely to hear in this genre of music...almost literally throat-ripping. They are also very exhausting to listen to, but I think this is a deliberate part of MINENWERFER’s music. It’s meant to be as stressful as trench warfare, and as apocalyptic.
With the grinding warfare now coming out of Ukraine, The Somme seems curiously topical once again and MINENWERFER have tapped into that here. “Feuerwalze” is about as extreme as black metal can get without falling apart completely. A very intense album.