Review: Krieg – Transient

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Many bands make grand boasts about “maturing as artists” or undergoing “artistic evolutions” when their music either remains unchanged or descends into mediocrity. Since their inception in 1995, New Jersey’s Krieg have proven themselves to be adept at incorporating many sounds into a cohesive whole, while never sacrificing their integrity.

From the dissonant, howling blasts of Rise of Imperial Hordes and the demented anguish of The Black House to Blue Miasma’s downer (supposed) swansong and The Isolationist’s rebirthed rage with a newfound sense of nigh-psychedelic melody, each successive album has brought with it a style of its own, yet always anchored in the core Krieg sound.

On Transient, Krieg’s seventh album, the band shows off yet another new facet of their ever-changing style while still harking back to previous entries in their catalog. Anchored by Neil Jameson’s most fantastically angry and deranged vocal performance in years, Transient cuts down on some of the eerie atmospherics of their previous albums (while not getting rid of them completely) in favor of a more immediate crust-driven sound.

For sure, familiar elements from each of the band’s albums are present. “Circling the Drain” channels The Black House at its punky best, while the chiming, atmospheric guitars of “Walk with Them Unnoticed” call to mind the more experimental cuts off The Isolationist before picking up halfway through and riding out the song in a flurry of fast-paced instrumentation punctuated by Jameson’s tortured growls and a return to the song’s lush opening. The album’s title proves apt at describing the ephemeral sound of the album, always moving from sound to sound while always managing to keep a consistent musical identity throughout.

Opening track “Order of the Solitary Road” shows the band at their most primal and vital in years, yet still offers a sophisticated expansion of their core sound with the addition of a persistent electronic soundscape. On the surface the song is all violence and carnage while below the surface lurks a darker beast, waiting to be unleashed. While Krieg have been in touch with the more atmospheric side of black metal since their debut, Transient shows the band incorporating these elements with newfound purpose, allowing them to assault the listener with visceral thrashing while simultaneously taking the time to whisper litanies of horror right in their ear.

The songwriting here is the real high point of the record. While Krieg never ventures into “soft” territory, it’s moments like the last minute of “Order”, all martial drums and shouted declarations, which show the band’s masterful control over dynamics, a new side of the old Krieg.

The crusty violence of “Return Fire” leads straight into “To Speak with Ghosts”, where the pace slows to a crawl and the listener finally has a chance to take a breath of the suffocating riffs when, without warning, the intensity starts to ramp up for the next few minutes before breaking down into a reprisal of the opening riff and the heaviest moment of the album so far.

“Winter”, one of the album’s highlights, takes a direction heretofore unheard of in Krieg’s catalog. A quick build on the snare hints at more of Transient’s blackened crust before transforming into a lurching quasi-groove almost like something off the latest Pyrrhon album interspersed with skittering pick scrapes and Jameson’s yells. Thurston Moore may be a douche of the highest order, but it’s undeniable his contributions to Twilight’s most recent effort yielded great results, seen here with a fresh vivacity.

Like the aforementioned “Walk with Them Unnoticed”, “Ruin Our Lives” brings the melody to the forefront, with walls of layered guitars transforming a simple chord progression into beautiful, densely orchestrated harmony. This section is abruptly cut off by a slow electronic beat and oscillating synths reverberating like something out of a trip-hop song before a whirlwind of tremolo picked guitars, blasting drums and howled vocals finally gives the listener a taste of something conventional, no matter how brief it is.

It’s at this point on the album we encounter the unfortunate interlude “Home.” Opening with a grim sample, the song progresses from minimalist synths to an acoustic guitar plugging away before the song just… ends. The guitar appears to be building to something, but it never arrives, instead just fading out to another sample. While there’s nothing offensively bad about the track on its own, sandwiched between two far superior songs, its weaknesses are all too apparent.

Fortunately, the album ends on a high note, with the closer “Gospel Hand”, a fitting song to cap off the album. Opening with all the standard conventions of black metal, the track slows down to focus on sprawling guitar arpeggios with a melodic bass line followed by a buildup into a fitting emotional climax to the album.

All told, Transient can be easily characterized as a diverse album capable of working on multiple levels. While certainly the option is present (especially on the first half) for the listener to be bombard by the brutally primitive physicality of the album, the real power of the album lies in its power to subliminally insinuate a more sinister message into the mind of the listener, its crusty rage belying darker suggestions of hypnotic terror hidden behind waves of raw blackened hatred.

half flush

.5/5 FLUSHES

Transient is out now on Candlelight Records. Stream it here and buy it here.

TagsKrieg
  • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

    Ooh new Krieg. Excitebike for this.

  • Tyree

    So excited for this listen! This is sitting in my Bandcamp wishlist right next to Dubya’s Blood of Kingu. Krieg are right up my ally; grindy crusty black metal. Awesome review Christian, I wish me could writes as gooders as yu.

    • Christian Molenaar

      Thanks dude. Like I said, this album combines the sort of atmospheric approach of The Isolationist with their heavier early stuff and it’s real good yum.

    • Scrimm

      I went to my record shop last and forgot all about this. Flushing myself now.

      • Cock of Steele

        I did the same to Absu and Saxon

  • Sounds killer. Good review, Christian.

  • W.

    Good review. Listening to this album now.

    • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

      I’m 6 tracks in and I’m digging it so far. Been needing some more black metal lately. I’m getting burned out on noodly tech-death, though I still love noodly tech-death.

      • W.

        Somewhere in Vermont, Howard Dean is nodding.

        • Elite Extremophile

          Jack Bauer sheds a single tear.

          • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

            I’m sure he’ll be fine, cuz Archspire.

        • Tyree

          He’s on his fifth steak dinner. That son of a bitch!

        • Howard Dean

          [nods; wipes goat’s blood from brow]

      • Metaphysical Anus

        All hail the Black Metal Master Race!

        • Tyree

          All hail the Master-ass.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Glory unto the Master-ass!

          • Tyree
          • Metaphysical Anus

            I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all.

          • Tyree

            Conan would approve.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Well, Conan is a different guy. A beautiul guy.

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            since i am receiving high praise i shall use this time to unleash a vince fact that i came up with, may be a bit in bad taste but i here it is.
            vince calls baby metal ” the jappening” get it ? * takes cover*
            #vincefax

          • Metaphysical Anus

            By the way, what has that “fappening” all about? I think I missed it

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            it was a mass leak of nude personal photos of current female actresses, singers, models, etc. Over 100 women all told. Most well known would be jennifer lawrence and kate upton. I don’t know the technicalities but it is something to with a server called i cloud that was hacked and apple is taking the heat for it.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Oh, I have heard of that. I just didn’t know that ot was called the fappening. Isn’t FBI investigating it?

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            i think so, but the guy who did it is threathining to release more pics and video. I guess he knows he will get caught and wants to do as much as he can.

          • Scrimm

            Bad taste is hilarious.

          • KJM

            And if Conan’s not down with that, Billy Gunn’s got two words for him…

          • Tyree

            BELIEVE THAT!

  • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

    “Winter” is a badass track. Love it.

    • Tyree

      Grrrrrrrr. I want to listen now but I can’t.

    • W.

      It is really good.

  • Mother Shabubu III

    dem jabs at Mastodon and Opeth brah

  • W.

    Christian, I agree with you about Home. it is really, really out of place.

  • Leif Bearikson

    So much black metal to listen to. I need to find a wooded area and some frost.

    • Edward Meehan

      I upvoted you for your comment as well as the new avatar.

    • W.

      This will never ever get old.

  • quoth Thurston Moore, “Black Metal is music made by pussies of the lowest order”… apparently he’s never met a King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    • I’m not a big black metal fan or nothin’ but Sonic Youth might be one of the most overrated bands of all time.

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        they somehow slipped in on the tail end of the nirvana alternative signing frenzy and got a deal with geffen i believe. ( could be wrong but it was a major)

        • Scrimm

          That was such a horrible time.

    • Max

      That doesn’t gel with the interview I read with him which was entirely about black metal – how great it was, how he’d been a fan since he released a bootleg Venom 7″ back in the ’80s, how he had a project of his own going, and where he cited a whole lotta stuff he was currently listening to. I must say I was pretty surprised by it. But apparently even Steve Albini likes Burzum.

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        i remember reading an interview like that myself, perhaps the guy is a few bricks short of a load as they say. Maybe a bit too many illegal substances taken over the years if you get my drift. Personally i hate that shit noise he makes that was in vogue for about 6 months in the 90’s.

        • Max

          This’ll probably appall you Conan – but you remember that conversation we had the other day about “gateway drug” music and how I claimed not to have gone through that phase?

          Well, if I DID have a gateway drug to go from radio-rock/pop to extreme metal – Sonic Youth was it. They and their ilk (Dinosaur Jr, Soundgarden, Swervedriver, Mudhoney et al) were my first introduction to non-mainstream music – which at that time is what they were; because this was pre-Nirvana. So I have to give them credit for that.

          That kind of thing still doesn’t really prepare you for the listening rigours of Earache fare, so I suppose I can hold onto my street cred tenuously!

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            i feel bad for what i said i didn’t know which way you were going with your comment. I purchased pearl jam , soundgarden, and nirvana a few months before they became smash hits, so i will reveal that shame. I no longer listen to them but i can appreciate them for what they were. Even on the toilet we step on our brothers toes from time to time it seems, nothing personal my friend.

          • Max

            Oh no, no no; I wasn’t offended, Conan! Nothing you say can EVER offend me bro, even when we do disagree! I’ve always loved your comments no matter which way they run.

            Looking back, it’s astonishing to think that once upon a time, the likes of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were actually considered cutting-edge. But in the context of the late ’80s I guess they were. Once the tide turned, even Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. got pretty boring pretty quickly, I must say.

            That said, I’ll maintain that Mudhoney is the best band I’ve ever seen live. It might be my impressionable 18-year-old-at-his-first-festival talking, but I have heard and read plenty of people say that they were very formidable. (Interestingly, I walked away from Sonic Youth’s set on the same day.)

          • good guy conan!

      • hey, maybe he was totes joking! if you think of it that way, it is kinda funny!

        • Wizard Aura

          its funny ’cause its true!

  • Janitor Jim Dvggan

    I’ll give this a listen when I get home. I’m at the Chinese buffet near me at the moment.

  • Scrimm

    Fuck Thurston Moore.

  • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

    ………….

  • Chino’s shoe

    Awesome review. Badass band

  • Howard Dean

    Christian! Just got around to reading this. Sorry for the latency on this (I had a busy afternoon yesterday, and a crazy morning). Awesome review! Also excited that Krieg shared this on facebook. Good shit, dude! Bring the black! Total death! Byah!

  • TrickleDownTacoRiff

    I love the rant on the song Home. I really love that rant…a little too much I think.