Black metal purists (or indeed, any metal genre) have long argued/complained that their beloved music has been diluted, contaminated or otherwise bastardised by bands mixing genres to create a seemingly endless parade of subgenres (National Socialist black metal, anyone?). The subject of today’s review – Switzerland’s Majesty of Silence – are having none of that nonsense; black metal is clearly enough of a description for their musical style, thank you very much.

Having formed as Cultureshock in 1994 and following a brief foray into the name Parsley (?!), they formally became MoS in 1996. Originally a four piece, they are now down to two, Peter Mahler and Christian Geissmann. After a great start, they ground to a halt in 2010 and only became active again last year. This, their third full length album, was released on Rockshot Records/Extreme Metal Music on May 25th this year. With all song titles and lyrics now in German it’s a challenging listen, but well worth it if you like your metal as black as the devil’s boots.

Following a rather creepy spoken word intro, opening track ‘Der Untergang’ (The Downfall) kicks proceedings off briskly with some lightning fast drumming - honestly, their drummer must be a flailing blur of limbs – and blistering guitars; the anguished, self-pitying vocals are a nice dark touch, too.

Black metal – classic black metal – is known for its fast pace and fury, and Majesty of Silence do not disappoint in any way: the entire album has the pedal smashed to the metal from start to finish, with the engine screaming and the passengers clinging desperately to their seats. There literally is no let up, bar the odd moment of delicacy in the form of a guest female vocalist (and she sings in German, so even when she sounds beautiful, she sounds forbidding). ‘Der Zahn Der Zeit’ (The Ravages of Time) is a smidgen slower but no less powerful for it, and with a gloomy and desolate tone that matches the title perfectly. ‘Traurige Geschicht’ (Sad Story) harnesses a sort of ‘carnival from Hell’ feel and melds it to a glowering, grim tone and ‘beastly’ outro to create a blackened anthem, while ‘Sonne’ (Sun – and no, it’s not that Rammstein song) combines a stomping beat, a rather rare audible, proper snarling riff and the band’s clear Cradle of Filth influence with that female guest vocalist – a real rose amongst the thorns – and voila! Alchemy.

It’s second-to-last track ‘Erlӧsung’ (Deliverance) that simply blows the rest away, however, as well as best representing both the band and the rather hopeless, desolate ‘what the hell is wrong with humanity these days’ theme of the album. After a deceptively slow (and short) intro, the drums and guitar kicks in at lightning pace and, like a hand trapped in a car door, simply drag the listener along for the ride. A breathtaking extended outro brings this glorious, epic album closer to an end. Well, not quite: final track ‘Stille’ (Quietly) is literally that: fifty-four seconds of silence. Which may be a sign that the band take their craft a touch too seriously, or that they secretly have quite a mischievous sense of humour…haven’t decided yet. Still, it’s certainly a unique take on the whole ‘let’s throw in a short number to finish the album’ thing.

That aside, this is, essentially, a classic black metal album. Yes, there are melodic sections which are surprisingly lush. There is a (gasp!) female vocalist here and there. There are even touches of almost clean singing; well, more of a harsh bellow, but you get the point. It’s still authentic, unadorned black metal that’s brutal, furious, and abrasive enough to strip woodchip wallpaper - just the way the purists like it, in fact.


Review by Melanie Brehaut


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