Genre: Pagan black metal
Full Length: Remnants of Grief and Glory
Format: Digital album
Label: Deviant Records (Germany)
Release date: August 23, 2021
This is another new band for me so I searched their name for research. Besides information about them I found information about a 1957 West German movie directed by Erich Kobler and a folkloric mountain spirit from pagan German, Polish, and Czech legend, also known as a woodwose (wild man of the woods). I don’t know if the band named themselves after the legends or if the movie was based on it, but it seems likely those folk tales had some sort of bearing.
With Rübezahl’s “Remnants of Grief and Glory” we have yet another subgenre of extreme music, namely “Alaskan pagan black metal” as their style has been classified. As complex as adding another title sounds, it seems to fit where the band is taking the black metal genre thirty years after second wave black metal emerged in Norway and Sweden.
Rübezahl independently released their debut single “Of Night and Eternal Cold” in 2017, following it with an EP “Tempering of Northern Iron” (Sacrifical Sounds) in 2019 and another independent single “Alas Phoenician, Despair!” in 2021. Deviant Records picked them up soon after and unleashed their first full length “Remnants of Grief and Glory” upon the world. Due to its musical scope and vision it’s been greeted with enthusiasm since being made available.
While starting this review I listened to Rübezahl’s entire repertoire starting with their debut single. As I was introduced to them a few weeks ago I wanted to get the big picture of their development and progress. Their earliest material was unvarnished and vitriolic, and driven by the elaborate guitars of frontman Raróg (also of the Alaskan death/doom metal band Druj). His playing reminded me of the Swedish black metal project Arckanum, with significant amounts of Borknagar and Immortal added.
Charged by the rhythm section of Gravmond (bass) and Bergwächter (drums), whose presences invariably radiated through all their releases, the band generated an atmosphere that increased in breadth and fullness, growing to magnificent proportions on “Remnants of Grief and Glory”. With pronounced shades of folk and doom metal, and bottomless death growls from Raróg, this album manifests their evolvement into something transcendentally desolate and mystical.
From their debut single onward Rübezahl created a unique approach and elevated it to something grand and monumental. While they have made no effort to incorporate other genres, they build on their formula, tempering it with more intricate riffs and time changes to build a subgenre with potential to stand on its own. The darkness this brings about is fast becoming almost physically palpable, almost like a living entity. The band’s stirring folk elements serve to enhance their enclosing tenebrosity. “Remnants of Grief and Glory” is a far-reaching effort that strives even now to diverge from formula. –Dave Wolff
Raróg: Guitars & Incantations
1. Thunder & Oak
2. Alas Phoenician, Despair!
3. Ether & Steel
4. Accursed Victory
5. Meditations Of A Tyrant
6. Echos Of A Mighty Hall
7. Bloodlines Of Scorched Earth
9. Anvil Of The East