|Genre:||Crust, Black Metal|
|Release Date:||16th of June, 2023|
|Released via||Breath Sun Bone Blood|
Hello, this is late-to-the-game Roman, coming back with yet another review that arrives pretty damn late. This still remains quite a difficult state, since it is not very easy to write a review about an album that has been discussed widely already. In fact, this is way more difficult when taking into consideration what we are going to talk about in this review. This album has received a massive amount of praise and I could just shut up. However, most probably finding its way onto the higher spots of my AOTY list, I definitely NEEDED to write about this album. Let’s start at the beginning, though.
Much praise already, we are talking about the sophomore release by 5-member-outfit Rană. These guys stirred up the Crust and Black Metal underground scene already with their previous release Armament, that found a wider resonance and was quite a highlight EP in 2021. Now they return with their full-length debut after having found a home for their release at Breath Sun Bone Blood.
It certainly is no lie that I arrived here because of Armament. What an EP! Finding a definite strength due to the fact that it sounded as if early Downfall of Gaia had released Cult Leader‘s A Patient Man, there were a huge amount of strengths to be found on this EP. Just briefly mentioning the strong transitions between the varying different sound spheres, I absolutely melted away when arriving at the clean vocals sequences on “Pyres.” Goddamn. I could bleed out my entire goddamn heart out when listening to this song. As you might be able to guess from this brief insight into Rană’s previous release, it was the strong versatility of this band that brought me back into looking forward to this album.
Expectations were certainly superseded on Richtfeuer. Rană was not only able to showcase the same versatility as on Armament regarding especially the sonical transitions between calm and furious passages. Most importantly, those guys succeeded implementing whole new sounds to their style, fully incorporating them in their personal sound. As a major example, you just need to start off with the first track “Läutern” and the initial minute of this song. The guitar picking that introduces you to this album gently guides you into this majestic outburst of a release while taking a strong allusion at the style of Amenra or Neurosis. This riff quickly alters, yet it is upheld throughout quite a long period of time.
On this track alone, though, the atmosphere is adjusted numerous times. While the sludgy sequence takes its prerequisite amount of time to formerly breathe, at the exact right spot we crush right into a forceful wave of Black Metal when the drums push forward the speed of this track. This culminates in a breaking and stomping staccato sequence, only to come back to the atmosphere that initially introduced the track by putting it all to a halt and returning to a primarily acoustic sound.
The fact that this album only consists of four tracks that all clock in at over 10 minutes (apart from the second track “Flamura”) surely points out that Rană have their difficulties cutting it short. Often, this can eventually turn out to be quite an exhausting element of an album. However, when reconsidering the brief description of the first track that took place above, it is obvious that the length of these tracks is absolutely necessary to build up the intended progression of this sound.
Apart from that, the aforementioned “shorter” track “Flamura” also quickly showcases that Rană are quite well in cutting it shor, too. On this track, we get a Sludge-driven Neo-Crust track that oscillates between Crust and Black Metal. While the rest of the tracks all have their room to breathe, this track is straight to your face. When also adding the chanting vocals at the end of this track, this is sure as hell one of the highlights in case you’re interested to step into the first row when catching those guys live!
When having entered this album, I was desperately looking to regain that breathtaking harmony between guitars and clean vocals that was present on Armament. So far, the finesse of the songwriting distracted me, however this thought persistently comes back to my mind in between tracks. When arriving at the third track “Richtfeuer,” I am finally redeemed. Initially, it strikes the listener that the style of clean vocals and instrumentation varies from the sound on Armament. After a brief moment of orientation, I adjusted with the sound and a few more moments later I had to admit that this style on Rană‘s latest release – adjusting it differently – was a very interesting turn. When you were keenly waiting for the clean style of Armament, it is even more surprising to get both new sound material as well as a new environment in which Rană can approve their songwriting. Apart from that, “Richtfeuer” also differs from the previous acoustic sound we knew since it oscillates at a higher frequence between this warm and calming sound and full-blown Black Metal in the vein of your favorite US combo. On Armament, the transition followed the pattern that made A Patient Man such a strong album and this was also the reason why I immediately started comparing these albums, since Rană start off the first half of the song in utter beauty and then break into their Crust sound as complement. On “Richtfeuer,” the oscillation back and forth between this style and furious Black Metal-infused Crust has become a stylistic device that Rană seems to make use of more confidently.
On their final track “Our Smouldering Grief / Im Brand,” Rană showcase that they are capable of merging all the elements that were present on the previous tracks on the longest song of this album. Opening in a rather sludgy manner, the heart of any fan of early Downfall of Gaia still beats at high frequency. All devices are brought together to find a well-fitting culmination of this album.
It felt as if this band came out of nowhere when I came across their debut EP in 2021. Constructing a very personal and unique style while alluding to primary elements of several other bands I absolutely favor puts this release on a very strong position. The meticulously crafted balance between fury and beauty that is present on this album will drive you back to listening to this album numerous times in the future. After Armament, we get yet another great release that should turn your scope towards this band the latest!