Ateiggar – Tyrannemord Review

On the evening of December 24th in the year 820 AD, Byzantine emperor, Leo Armenius – also known as Leo V – went to Christmas mass. Little did he know that several members of the chorus were assassins in disguise with swords hidden beneath their robes. Fortunately for Leo, in the dim candlelight of St Stephen’s chapel, the hit mob accidentally filleted a priest instead of the unpopular emperor. In the confusion, Leo ripped a large crucifix from the wall and used it to defend himself. He called for his guards, but the doors were barred. During the ensuing melee, Leo was eventually hacked to pieces and his body unceremoniously dumped into the snow outside. 1,202 years later, Ateiggar, a black metal duo from Switzerland, announce the debut of their first full-length LP, Tyrannemord. The album’s narrative is a dramatization of the harrowing events described above. Will this very metal history lesson make for a compelling night at the opera, or will it be a Swiss miss?1

Atteigar is part of the Helvetic Underground Committee (HUC), a collective of bands and musicians from Zurich, Switzerland. Fauth Temenkeel performs the vocals, guitars and bass and Fauth Lantav handles drums. Both Fauths (German for “faith” or the occupational name of a bailiff or sheriff) have worked together in other black metal bands including Ungfell and Kvelgeyst. On Tyrannemord, they expand their instrumentation to create a dense gothic musical tableau. From glockenspiels to church choruses, all the musical real estate is developed to produce a very crowded neighborhood. At its core, the album takes its lineage from the second wave of Norwegian black metal, but the production is rich and cinematic to a fault. Imagine Hans Zimmer teaming up with Emperor. The sound teeters from Dimmu Borgir excess to Cradle of Filth kitsch and is always drenched with cathedral-like reverb.

For an album with such a colorful, built-in plot line, Tyrannemord is difficult to engage with. With every repeat listen, I struggled to distinguish the songs from one another or soak in the storyline. While the album contains some quiet moments, it lacks the dynamics that make the highs feel high and the lows feel low. Most of the songs chug along at full velocity with an ever-droning chorus echoing the musicians. With so much going on it’s hard to find a jumping-on point and if your attention drifts, it’s even harder to get back in. The vocals were perhaps the most difficult element to acclimate to. Temenkeel’s delivery is that of an anguished opera singer teetering on the verge of parody. I pictured him as Moonspell’s Fernado Ribeiro trying to be the “spooky” uncle with a flashlight under his chin telling ghost stories before bedtime.

The band’s biggest strength lies in their ability to arrange. The riffs and melodies on Tyrannemord offer little that you haven’t heard before. Their impact only comes in the way they are used. By stopping and starting or panning instruments left or right or adding additional sounds, creates a modest amount of interest within their audio play. It’s not unlike the way a composer would use an orchestra. Unfortunately, they chose to keep all guns blazing. Instead of carefully using the ingredients in their pantry to develop compelling flavors, they threw everything in the pot. The opening track, “En stille Feind” sets an interesting enough tone with a mix of gothic black metal, operatic vocals and chimes. “Iserni Plag” ratchets up the guitar tremolo and continues the trajectory but by the middle of the album, you feel you’ve waded into a slush of repetitive themes that weren’t that exciting to begin with. Album closer “Din Lyb ziert de Altar” redeems things slightly. It’s the track that most feels like a story. You can imagine the blades flashing as the priest delivers mass in Latin and the chapel erupts into chaos. Opening and closing the album with tweeting birds feels beyond cliché.

I wanted to like this record. On paper, the slaying of a first-century Byzantine emperor done to a black metal soundtrack sounds cool as hell. However, once the birds stopped chirping in the intro track, I felt buried by the relentless cadence of Tyrannemord. The swirling songs made me feel like I was trapped in a tornado with the tabernacle choir instead of transporting me to treasonous Constantinople. The band’s name, Ateiggar, means “initiator of ideas, which I think Tyrannemord has plenty of. For their next album perhaps, the band can team with whatever Swiss name translates as “executor of ideas.”

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Eisenwald Music
Releases Worldwide: October 28th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Report to the chapel. – Steel
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