Artist : Dornenreich
Origin : Austria
Released In : 2021
Genre : Black Arcane Rock, Avant-Garde Dark Folk
It was on a warm, cloudy day of early June. Heavy Rain was starting to fall on the streets. The damp coolness had only just begun piercing its way through the atmospheric molasses that had been smothering Paris for a few days.
I was lying in bed, torn down by circumstances that shan’t be displayed here. My mind broken, my body crushed. Through my open window I listened to the distant rolling thunder, and to the soft rumble of waterspouts crashing down on the asphalt.
For no particular reason, I had launched Dornenreich’s latest album, Du Wilde Liebe Sei, on my stereo moments ago.
For no particular reason… Or so I thought. It had been a few days since I received this CD. I had had no proper time to get into it but It was spinning in my subconscious, and I still didn’t know what to think of it. But in this particular moment, within this atmosphere, giving it a spin turned out to be an inspired act.
It was there, carried away by both internal and external storms, that it finally clicked. That I made an emotional connection to this album, and somehow got it.
In the vast swarm that is Black Metal, Dornenreich are a unique specimen. If the Austrians first distinguished themselves on the Black Metal scene about 25 years ago, they never hesitated to carry their sound along more « aerial » ways.
Between Thomas « Inve » Riesner’ violin that was first heard in their 2001 breakthrough album Her Von Welken Nächten, the ghostly and catchy mid-tempo Dark Rock of Hexenwind, the restraint and ritualizing Black Metal guitars, keyboard melodies and clean vocals of Dürch Den Traum, or the entirely acoustic brio of Im Luft Geritzt, the group led since late 1996 by Jochen Stock known as “Eviga” never seemed to abide to any formal constraints to express their art.
They don’t « mix » Black Metal and Folk, they don’t « alternate » between one and the other depending on the album: they ARE Black Metal, no matter what or how they play. Very few bands can actually boast such a status. Maybe Darkthrone, with a different sound tho.
It goes without saying that Du Wilde Liebe Sei, coming out seven years after the previous album Freiheit, was highly anticipated among fans – including myself. Knowing (by heart) the richness of Dornenreich’s palette I know I could expect many different things, but out of habit and selfishness, deep down I hoped for something in the vein of Flemmentriebe ; a fierce Black Metal album sublimated by Inve’s sumptuous violin. And of course, I was wrong.
Du Wilde Liebe Sei is something new. Something organic and enveloping, both cold and warm.
The album’s opening tribal percussions clearly suggests an incursion in the realm of Dark Folk and Neo-Folk. But we are not in entirely acoustic territory ; a soft, round electric bass is there supporting from the background. Eviga’s electric guitar with its soft and clear tuning – a recognizable touch of Dornenreich, even in their most Black Metal moments – builds on melodic riffs along with acoustic notes.
Eviga’s voice starts with soft singing but quickly grows harsh, without screaming – he’s one of the very few vocalists in the genre with that ability: delivering that visceral intensity without having to ramp up the decibels. The swirling electric riff continues to build up, and Inve’s violin joins the ballet, with sustained, melancholic accents. The opening track So Ruf ’Sie Wach Das Sehnen is a strange, organic ballad, mixing sadness and optimism.
The album flows all along using these electric-organic and folky elements, varying between calmer moments and highly palpable tension, as on Im Strömen aus Verwanderlung ein flackerloses licht or Dein knöchern ‘Kosen.
Here lies in a few words the sound of Du Wilde Liebe Sei: shamanic percussions, an omnipresent supporting bass, soft and palpable electric guitars, acoustic guitars, sinuous and romantic violin melodies, and Eviga’s chant carrying it all between softness and tension.
This is why it kicked in at that precise moment, with my senses aching and my body shrinking; more room for the heart and mind to welcome this atmospheric tension, that was oddly similar to the approaching storm I was feeling from the comfort of my home. Du Wilde Liebe Sei is an emotional stroll on the edge of a wood just before dawn, at the onset of a storm.
Not being a German speaker I was still unaware of it at the time of listen, but the album’s theme is Love. Love as a whole concept, in all possible forms; from the love of oneself to the love of others and the World, along with all its joys and sorrow.
My total lack of both perspective and linguistic skills will keep me from bragging about with an educated interpretation of an opus that took about seven years to be matured. Hence I will humbly quote the mastermind himself who gave one important key to the album :
[…] the tension within the human individual’s heart between the desire for self-assertion and freedom and the desire to devotion and belonging to me is the central conflict this album relies on.Eviga, in an interview with Arrow Lords of Metal
We all experienced this inner conflict at some point. We all experience it, every day. We often tend to ignore it – or shy away from it. But it can be releaving or even saving to accept it. To simply not fight it. Letting ourselves be carried away by these contradictory sensations, and by the skin-deep compositions of Du Wilde Liebe Sei.