Album Review: Wesenwille – “II: A Material God” 8/10 (Black Metal)

Written by Corey Critiques

WesenwilleII: A Material God
Black Metal from the Netherlands
Released March 12th, 2021
via Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions
8/10

Wesenwille is a Black Metal duo from the Netherlands; D. Schermann takes care of the drums and R. Schmidt handles the guitars, bass, and vocals. They specialize in a very modern style of Black Metal, not only in terms of their compositions but also in terms of their lyrical content. Whereas most Black Metal bands tend to focus on (anti) religious lyrical themes, this Dutch duo are anti-capitalist to their blackened core. Their lyrics offer scathing critiques of the industrialization of the modern world and place the listener solidly in the year 2021. Their 2018 debut was one of my favorite albums of that year and when I heard they were releasing another full-length, I was fully prepared to have my mind blown once again. Expectations almost met.

Spotify

The album starts off with “The Descent”, using a line from George Lucas’ THX 1138. In fact, quotes from that movie are scattered throughout the entire album. In one way, this ties in nicely with the anti-capitalist, dystopian themes of the lyrics. On the other hand, George Lucas is clearly enjoying the benefits of capitalism, so perhaps there’s a bit of self-aware irony going on here? Not sure. Moving on.

This album has some nice blast beats and classic tremolo picking going on but this band also brings in their own brand of angular, choppy style of Black Metal, and I think that’s what makes them stand out to me. Throughout the album, the melodies and rhythms are reminiscent of bands like DeathSpell Omega and Imperial Triumphant at their proggiest. But Wesenwille aren’t all about technical prowess all the time; they also have a great ear for composing these slow and headbangable melodies, pulling back on the anti-capitalist angst to let the music simmer and do its thing.

“Opulent Black Smog” begins with some eerie keyboard notes before a serpentine guitar melody is played, slithering between the speakers before the rhythm guitar shows up to buttress it, eventually giving way to the drums and the whole thing kind of washes over you. This song is a bit more chaotic in it’s delivery, both in terms of the instrumentation and in the vocals. Definitely a highlight of the album but not my favorite. About halfway through the song, there’s a little reprieve as the drums and vocals take a step back and the guitars take center stage with a neat little solo. I don’t normally enjoy solos in metal but Wesenwille make it work; it never seems to intrude.

There are some songs that have a little bit of a Death Metal feel to me, at least in terms of the rhythm. “Burial Ad Sanctos” is one such song; it brings the aggression in a serious way. Great riffs here and one of the more proggier tracks in terms of time signatures and dissonance.  I won’t go track-by-track though because, as much as I do enjoy this album, I think it suffers from having too many songs that sound similar to each other. This isn’t the worst crime for an album to commit, but it lacked that special quality of replayability that I look for in an album. That being said, there are definitely a few standout tracks on the album, namely the aforementioned “The Descent”, mid-album song “Inertia”, and the title track. “A Material God” just starts out fast and heavy right out of the gate with no time for any ambient passage or atmospheric bullshit. Just searing black metal riffs, unrelenting guitars and tortured vocals. My favorite part on this album comes during this song; right at the 1-minute mark exactly is a catchy, headbanging, angular riff that just jars the listener into the swirling, blackened reality that is Wesenwille.

There’s also an instrumental on this album in the song “Ritual”. Again, we start off with another quote from THX 1138 and then slowly other instruments are added in. It’s not an ambient track though; the guitars and the bass are doing some really interesting interplay with the drums in this song. It’s directly in the middle of the album and it’s a nice reprieve from the bludgeoning that the album has been giving up until then.

This album is a great mix of brutality blended with beautiful melodies. The compositions are jagged when you want yet smooth when they need to be. If I was going to make any changes to the album, I’d either shorten the runtime or have some more songs that showcased their range better. I KNOW they can do it; I heard them do it on their debut. But, it’s not a bad album by any means. This is just a case of a fan wishing it was like the first album he heard by that band. It may grow on me over time. Either way, it’s well worth your money. 

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