AMG’s Unsigned Band Rodeö: Grabesfurcht – Wachkoma

Back in the primordial days of this here blog, we attempted something called “AMG’s Unsigned Band Rodeö.” The basic idea was to select a bunch of unsigned bands and give them the collective review treatment to find the most worthy buried gems. It was our humble effort to remind folks that the metal underground is still an important part of the world of metal.

As vaccine programs begin to gather pace in some countries, and the prospect of a return to work in the dingy third-hand cubicles AMG Inc. deigns to call ‘offices’ looms, what better for a gaggle of writers to celebrate – in socially distanced fashion, of course – than another Rodeö. Today’s Stier rampages out of Bavaria, Germany. Grabesfurcht is a one-man atmo- or post-black project. The piece I neglected to mention when I lured in poor, unsuspecting Holdeneye, for whom these genre tags are already alien, is that Grabesfurcht’s 2021 debut, Wachkoma, is also instrumental. There is not much else I could have shared about Grabesfurcht, there being precious little online but, for those who’d like to see for themselves, you can check out Bandcamp and Facebook. – Carcharodon

Holdeneye: I’m not generally an atmospheric black or post-black or whatever kind of metal this is dude, but it’s hard for me to pass up an opportunity to be even more of an AMG Rodeo clown than I usually am. I think the only atmo-black album I’ve ever loved is The Bleakness of Our Constant by Eneferens, so that record stands as my archetypical example of the style. Grabesfurcht, or Grabenfart as I affectionately call them, specialize in instrumental and atmospheric black metal that reminds me of Bleakness at times, and for the most part, I really enjoy their work. Wachkoma is filled with beautiful, emotive melodies, and it made for a spectacular soundtrack to my first yard work session of the year. I don’t seek out instrumental metal very often, so after two listens, I began to wonder when the vocals were going to come in. But I soon realized that the music is enjoyable without them. The drums are strangely produced, but overall, Wachkoma gave me the feels and was definitely worth my time. 3.0/5.0

Carcharodon: Unlike poor Holdy, I am a fan of atmo- and post-black. I also have a real soft spot for instrumental metal, though I would not normally suggest combining it with either of the ‘-‘black subgenres. Grabesfurcht pulls off the combination surprisingly well, however. Intricate and fragile as a whole, Wachkoma seems to almost shimmer as “Unruhe” opens proceedings. Punctuated by brief explosions of fury, Grabesfurcht’s stock in trade is soaring guitar melodies, that convey an ocean of yearning and longing in their sombre tones. Highlights “Lebensreflexion” and the title track tug at the heart strings, while the percussion-less “Tagtraum” (“Day dream”) is gorgeous in its delicacy. Were it not for a few awkward transitions (“3 am” and the bursts of drums on “Morgengrauen,” in particular) and the production values, Wachkoma had the potential for a Sharky 3.75.written all over it. Its carefully crafted progressions and grand moments are, however, lessened in their impact by the production, with the drums (or drum machine?) in particular sounding dreadful. It’s a real shame because this music needs dynamism to breathe and the production suffocates Grabesfurcht.1 3.0/5.0

Dear Hollow: Instrumental black metal sounds contradictory, and my experience demands caution (10:13). If bands can somehow conjure the unholy atmosphere without the use of vocals, more power to ’em, and that’s what German post-black/atmoblack one-man act Grabesfurcht attempts to do. Movements are driven by stunning melodies, heart-wrenching plucking, and emotive chord progressions, while moments of fury are guided by rock-solid drumming and ploddingly powerful riffs. Tracks like “Gedankenflut,” the title track, and “Agrypnie” are clear highlights in this solid craftsmanship, while “3 am” is a jarringly stitched-together affair. One also finds that Grabesfurcht sounds almost identical to Harakiri for the Sky sans vocals and sporting a limp production and empty percussion. At forty-four minutes with very few variation in emotional songwriting, Wackkoma is a hollow listen that exudes the promise of a post-black stallion with the grace of a newborn foal. 2.5/5.0

Doom_et_Al: In many ways, atmoblack is a bit like stoner doom: it’s fairly easy music to make, and it’s fairly easy to make of reasonable quality. The tough part is making stuff that really stands out. Wachkoma, the debut album from German one-man atmoblack project, Grabesfurcht, is notable in that it is completely instrumental. This puts more pressure on the music and compositions. The good news is that they do hold up … but barely. When Grabesfurcht clicks, as on the title track, and “Gedankenflut,” it’s high-quality stuff, achieving a soaring drama that really resonates. Unfortunately, the mix is extremely bland, which flattens out all the peaks and troughs that music like this thrives on. The production’s unevenness extends to weird shifts in volume; nothing ruins meditative music more than having to constantly fiddle with the volume dial. It is also top-heavy, with a first half notably stronger than the second, resulting in a disappointing drop in quality as the album progresses. Overall, Wachkoma a mixed bag, but there’s more than enough potential here to keep me interested in what comes next … once that production is sorted. 2.5/5.0

Twelve: I’m not sure why, but I didn’t have high expectations when I joined Team Atmoblack, about a full week after everyone else did, after I noticed they were down a member and had nothing better to do that day. Maybe I was feeling grumpy on reception? Maybe writing for this site has made me pessimistic. Either way, I’m happy to say that my irrational feelings were pretty much trounced on my first full spin of Wachkoma. Early in, “Gedankenflut” had me a bit nervous, admittedly — a couple of awkward transitions and an inexplicably-loud snare drum (plus quiet everything-else drums) overpowered my impression of the song. But follower “Lebensreflexion” shattered expectations with its immediate, adventurous, excitable gallop. From here on, Grabesfurcht reliably impress with their two-guitars-and-a-dream approach to atmoblack, duelling riffs and tremolos confidently and with genuine spirit. I did not expect emotional resonance form this one, but what can I say, the “3 am”s and “Tagtraum”s are awesome. And while those transitions and the strange-at-times mix don’t ever go away, I still enjoyed full spins of Wachkoma for its spirit, songwriting, and general suitability for conquering enemy forces. 3.0/5.0

Show 1 footnote

  1. This may, or may not, actually be a line from Doom_et_Al but he made the mistake of saying it to me by the water cooler and, in my defence, I informed him I’d be stealing it, and, moreover, as I would be editing the post, there was fuck all he could do about it.
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