Sound: Huddled round the black metal campfire, you'll encounter all sorts of characters - lonely bedroom-dwellers, nun-ravaging lunatics and true showmen like Abbath and Horgh, to name but a few. There are some, however, who have only found their place in the community by wrapping their otherwise uninteresting music with a thin layer of fuzzy guitars and declaring themselves leaders of some new movement. If the passion of black metal is a tangible object that can be formed to suit whoever uses it, Agrypnie have injected it through the eyeballs.
Taking the warm emotion of French or Canadian black metal and stamping mercilessly on it with the hard, cold boot of their native Germany, 16' is the third exhibit of Agrypnie's bittersweet mystique, although this one is more relentless, and less melodic in a traditional sense. Instead, diatonic chord progressions do most of the legwork for droning leads which become more powerful as they weave more closely with Ren Schott's airtight blastbeats.
Finishing an enormous 73 minutes after it starts, this album is a more-than-comprehensive demonstration of inspired songwriting and ruthless execution, and while they might be pushing their luck making an extreme metal album this long, the band more or less justify it with eight songs that seem as indispensable as each other. That said the peak of intensity and quality comes towards the middle, with Verfall', Schlaf' and F15.2', three absolutely killer tracks that deserve a listen even if you don't want to sit through 16's entire duration. // 9
Lyrics: I'll be honest. I'm not really German enough to understand much of what Torsten Hirsch spits out on this record, but the language perfectly complements his vitriol so the admirable choice to sing in his mother tongue is crucial to the success of the vocals. With (translated) song titles like Sleep' and Tomorrow', though, one would presume that the lyrical themes of dreams and philosophy listed on the ever-helpful Encyclopaedia Metallum remain. Translations, if and when they are made for non-German speakers, should be looked into; in the meantime, listening to black metal in an unfamiliar language can carry its usual stratagemical appeal. // 8
Overall Impression: This one is a tougher nut to crack than its predecessors, F51.4' and Exit'. It takes many listens to understand its real strengths and even more to uncover the flaws that somehow make the album that bit more real'. For example, the guitar tone sits on the fence between punishing and just slightly irritating. Plus, for such a long album there are surprisingly few breaks from the grand onslaught, but then that could be construed as a positive. Not that either of these examples are monumentally important to this albums success anyway; Agrypnie are a band that people will be seeing more of in years to come, and this is the third album they've made that is worthy of your attention. // 8
- Duncan Geddes aka duncang (c) 2010