Ungfell - Es grauet
They are their own masters
For me, Ungfell's first album Tôtbringære struck out of the blue and as rapidly as thunder in 2017, a record that should be included in the top debuts of that year and brought a lot of attention to the project. Having just a couple of demos prior to that, they presented a semi-folk / semi-medieval style of fast paced black metal with dynamic, enterprising riffs and wonderful acoustic passages. The only aspect that could have been handled better in Tôtbringære was the harsh production, which was completely turned around with the clear production of their second work Mythen, Mären, Pestilenz, a year later.
What characterizes both these records is how energetic and memorable the guitar parts are. Ungfell construct tracks with unique excess, they have a recognizable sound and while often being hard hitting, they also give comedic hints in their music that makes the result an even more challenging and epic black metal framework. It's now been three years since Mythen, Mären, Pestilenz and the band returns with an effort that not only goes hand in hand with their previous full length, but also clears out the signs of growth in the compositions as well as overall musicianship. Es grauet can be considered the most accessible of their material, because of its even clearer and fuller production, and even at the cover art one can see the evolution from a medieval sketch in 2017 to today's complex, colorful scenes. Ungfell don't spare the listener of any of their frequent tricks in this album either, and again for me the most lethal weapon in their arsenal is the use of the guitars, distorted and not only. Even after a couple of listens you are hooked to these riffs, and the tracks can be easily recognized from one another, while the band has added several different elements adequately to not spoil the repetition.
Once listening to Es grauet, make sure to pay attention to all the different components of the tracks and focus on the melodies, as the band doesn't feel like repeating too much even their most potent moments. It is a treat to fit a lot of top-notch ideas in each track, and Ungfell take it a step further by avoiding even the slightest monotony. Of course, the record maintains its standard character, which is enriched by great samples (for example the sound of sheep bells, rain, other farm animals or church bells, used in some tracks) and finally some well recorded clean vocals. This is more prominent in the two last tracks (a vocal outro and the remarkable penultimate piece "D Unheilspfaffä vom Heinzäbärg"), but also in "Mord im Tobel". The hidden Easter egg of a short sample sound of a "frog honk" (I will name it like this), as it has been placed in parts of the previous records, is also present here as an extra inside joke from the band to the audience, to not only take this music more seriously than they should, but also life in general. Of course, I'm not going to give out which track has it. A couple of interludes with acoustic guitars scattered in the album, are the only songs with short duration, but I didn't find a particularly dull moment in its entirety. There is a lot of interesting content from start to finish in Es grauet, and if Ungfell had been perfecting this for the last three years, they totally succeeded.
I'm still completely in the dark regarding the lyrics or track titles of this band. This won't stop you from appreciating a band that now, with their third release, dares to step into more spotlight not by watering down its material, but by getting stronger and stronger. As -for me- the head of the Helvetic Underground Committee, Ungfell deserve all they talk they get as a rising band from our time period to be remembered in the future. Es grauet narrates another awesome tale, and it doesn't get rusty at all no matter how much you have it consecutively on repeat. After three highly emphatic albums, you can now be sure that this is not an one-night success band.
Damage: 4/5 [Excellent]