Wednesday, June 16, 2021
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Der Blutharsch and the infinite church of the leading hand: Rejoice

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Artist: Der Blutharsch and the infinite church of the leading hand (@)
Title: Rejoice
Format: CD + Download
Label: WKN (@)
Rated: * * * * *
You may recall encountering Der Blutharsch somewhere along the line if you've been listing to goth-industrial music for a good long while. Back in the mid-late '90s Der Blutharsch started as a side project of The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud, an Austrian medieval neofolk electro-acoustic duo composed of Albin Julius and Alzbeth. They put out a bunch of albums but never made it to the 21st century as Albin Julius decided to devote most of his musical energy to Der Blutharsch. That project began as a martial industrial/dark ambient kind of thing, and that's undoubtedly where I heard of this before. Heard of, but never really heard, unless it was a track on a compilation. Sort of odd considering I did have a fondness for martial industrial in the late '90s/early 2000s, and this project put out a lot of releases. I guess Der Blutharsch just wasn’t on my radar back then. Anyway, somewhere along the line Der Blutharsch changed its name to Der Blutharsch and the infinite church of the leading hand, but put out (different) release sunder both names, and may even continue to do so.

Things kick off with "Coming," a nine minute trudge in the neoclassical/martial vein with Marcato strings in an ascending and sort of repeating progression with real drums beating out the tempo and intermittent vocals that are more spoken than sung. The effect is serious, tense and cinematic. (I can imagine it being used as a theme for some intensely dramatic movie or series.) There's also some sustained overdriven guitar chords accenting for effect as well. This may be just what some people who haven't heard Der Blutharsch in a while might expect.
The neoclassical melts away with "Fear," a distorted guitar driven thing underpinned with muscular drumming and reminding me a lot of Swans, until the vocals come it. I don't know if the voice is male or female but to me it was reminiscent of David Tibet (Current 93), but there's a section with slide guitar that had me thinking Legendary Pink Dots. Just like the Dots though, this is uber-hard to classify. Sort of psychedelic with a dark malevolent edge.

"Darkness *" definitely sounds psychedelic-lysergic with a slow paced beat, tremolo guitar, whispered vocal, and even some hippy flute. This is the kind of music old heads probably wish was still being made, though precious little of it is anymore. This is more Manson Family psychedelic than flower children though. The pace and intensity picks up on "Darkness **" with an underpinning of neoclassical strings in high drama mode. The vocal is bolder too, but not as upfront as it could be. Title track ("Rejoice") is the one thing that sounds most like a rock song, maybe even kraut rock; Amon Duul II and Hawkwind come to mind. Vocals are more spoken than sung (except on the word "rejoice") here and there is plenty of improvisational flute.

Final track "Burn" is over 10 minutes long and the quasi-tribal rhythm at the opening absolutely reminds me of early My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. Vocals are sung but they're so mixed into the music that it's not easy to make out the words without listening really really hard. It does seem to have a ritualistic bent though. The track dances on this way throughout until it finally peters out, with spoken word samples revering the Prince of Darkness, almost a nod to MLWTTKK. All in all this is a very cool Der Blutharsch album, definitely worthy of owning.

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