Admittedly, Valborg’s fifth full-length Romantik was selected for review by yours truly based solely on one thing: Valborg apparently sounds like Triptykon. I know; that’s not exactly the best approach when selecting a promo. However, being the fan I am of Tom G. Warrior Inc. (look no farther than my pick for 2014’s Album of the Year), how could I go wrong? As many times before, I decided to take the plunge and dive head-first into the sounds and discography of a band I’d never heard before and what are the results of this risky endeavor? Well, I didn’t drown, but the doggy paddling wasn’t pretty. What appears to be the evil step-sister of Monotheist-era Celtic Frost-meets-Triptykon-meets-Type O Negative on the surface turns out to be some random person that looks sorta similar. Oy vey.

Does this mean I wanted Valborg to be a Triptykon clone? Absolutely not. But the passion and atmosphere of the Eparistera Daimones – Part II character of debut Glorification of Pain is nearly as convincing as anything Warrior and co. have released post Celtic Frost. From here the band evolved and expanded their sound to indeed make it their sound. Caked in doom and waking through a gothic murk, songs like Barbarian’s “Towering Clouds” display some sick riffage and moments of vicious death, and Crown of Sorrow’s “I Am Space” is single-handedly the coolest song the band has ever recorded. But in 2012, something went awry with Nekrodepression. While it continued to build off of Barbarian, it lacked the Valborgness of earlier releases and, sadly, some of that has bled into Romantik.

The biggest problem with Romantik is that it feels much slower than previous releases and took me nearly a half-dozen listens before it finally sunk in. Six tracks in forty minutes obviously results in longer track lengths that feel even longer with the overall lack of variety from song-to-song. The pace throughout the album is borderline glacial and the band is never tempted to press the accelerator. Though this isn’t surprising for a doom band, Romantik’s pace causes it to feel one-dimensional. A perfect example is “Blitz aus Sodom.” It’s five minutes of the same doom drudge, with alternating barks of “blitz aus Sodom!” and soft spoken-word passages. It’s not a particularly bad song but there really isn’t anything unique here.

For those able to overcome the pacing issues, there’s much to love from tracks like “Sulphur Vitriol Angel” and “Comtesse.” The former is perhaps the best track on the album and employs a powerful drum-driven beat and some catchy clean vox (which are a perfect contrast to the blackish rasps and venomous death barks). Halfway into the song, the keys blossom into a beautiful melody that the guitar eventually piggy-backs on, effectively capturing the emotion Valborg struggled to obtain in opener “Vampyr” and the aforementioned “Blitz aus Sodom.” Additional melodic stylings can be found toward the end of closer “The Haunted Womb;” which conveys an almost uplifting set of emotions that perfectly conclude Romantik. They really nail it here. “Comtesse,” on the other hand, can simply be described as a Melana Chasmata B-side. The Triptykon worship is heavy, and while it’s nothing you haven’t heard before, Valborg does a decent job with the song.

Valborg Romantik 02

Perhaps the single best thing Romantik has going for it is its production. Crisp, clean, and with all players accounted for, this DR9 beauty is a real pleasure to listen to. The drums do what drums do, the guitars are sharp, the bass is ever-present throughout, and the synths are so ominous that even the local weather man couldn’t fuck it up (that ominousness could very well be the soundtrack to Blade Runner if John Carpenter directed it). Seriously, this sounds great, even if the music lacks some substance.

All-in-all, this is nothing special. It has some good moments and it has some bad, but it’s a step above Nekrodepression. Unfortunately, it lacks depth and its shortage in variety makes me long for Valborg curveballs like “I Am Space” and “Samantha Alive.” For all those people that consider themselves romantics, you’d be better off giving Barbarianism a try.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Temple of Torturous
Websites: ValborgOfficial | Facebook.com/Valborg
Release Dates: EU: 2015.05.15 | NA: 06.02.2015

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  • Thatguy

    Spot on review

    This is beautiful sounding but tedious

    • Thatguy

      Although no one will read this I feel obliged to report that I have changed my mind about this album. It is a masterpiece of melancholy beauty.

  • Thatguy

    This is so boring no-one cares

    • Thatguy

      I’m sorry.

  • tomasjacobi

    I have nothing clever to say other than I think this is a great album.
    After focusing only on aggression on Nekrodepression, it’s nice that they’ve chosen to focus on atmosphere this time around. They really succeed and I could see this being one of my favourites of the year.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Great review, sounds like a tough one to tackle in writing! Seems like this and Barbarian are worth a few spins. But one important question remains: are there UGHs?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Thanks! And tough one indeed…

      Ugh… there you go…

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        But Doctor…are you morbid?

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Apparently I am :)

  • Mindi B

    I don’t the reviewer has understood Valborg’s style, and the relation to Triptykon is so marginal I feel it barely deserves acknowledgement. Tom may have chosen Valborg to partake in Roadburn back in 2010 but that’s as far as the relation goes imo.

    Romantik is a natural progression from Nekrodepression, in the sense of the OVERALL direction of Valborg, whilst remaining a stark contrast to that preceding album.

    The beauty of Valborg is that they fit into no true description or genre. They have a style all their own. But I’m not about to call them mindblowng as such – their effect has always required slower absorption, and hits you much more subtly.

    The progressions in sound with all Valborg’s releases have been of a slower nature, but nowhere is this more evident than on Nekrodepression and Romantik. To me, this characteristic actually binds the albums together. They are almost a reaction to each other, and thus compliment each other.

    Romantik is not a record which gives you quick hits. It lurks, lumbers in places, but deliberately so. Don’t look for punchlines and hard hits, they don’t come here. Each song on this record is a slow trudge on a cold night’s lone walk, alone and under fluroscent street lights in a long moment of pondering. Each step in the slow walk is a riff and crash of cymbals. And the keys, with an almost Casio-type sound, provide an odd contrast to the heavier background, yet manages to lend the overall sound a sombreness without subscribing to general characteristics of most doom.

    There is nothing groundbreaking here. There isn’t meant to be. Valborg has never meant to be so. Approach with a simpler mind, and you’ll find less is more. That’s the beauty of what Christian Kolf, Jan Buckard and Florian Toyka produce. This is humble, under-the-surface music, filled with moments which could be used for frames in a film with no dialogue.

    I found Romantik another excellent record in their discography. Valborg continue to be consistent and unpredictable – with an approach of humilty.

    Great, solid album, which requires focus despite is subtler nature.

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