This is the third full-length album from this German band with the unusual name. Tim Steffens and Florian Toyka formed Klabautamann in 1998 and they are the only permanent members of the band since then. After two demos, they released their debut “Our Journey Through the Woods” on their own in 2003, but the album didn’t get the proper distribution. In 2005 they released their second work “Der Ort” with the label Heavy Horses Records, so this time their album went much better.
Having listened to their previous works, I was expecting something good from the band. They were playing technical progressive black metal, with some pagan touches. In “Merkur” they haven’t changed their style, but there are of course some differences. They have a darker atmosphere, while the pagan influences are almost absent. Their songs have very complex structures, where everything can change from one moment to the other. You won’t find typical compositions, but rather experimental music, where the two members try to express their personal emotions spontaneously and sometimes you get the feeling that they are improvising. This approach requires high technical skills and makes their music much more difficult to comprehend. Luckily, the result is very good, since both musicians are very skilled and their sound / production touches perfection.
Their compositions are based on guitars, both electric and acoustic, which are used to create a huge variety of sounds. With very few exceptions there are no synths and the drums are played by a guest member, Patrick Schroeder, like in their previous album. Except for the last track “Noatun” that sounds like a ballad, all other songs are not based in melody, but in the “game” between power and calmness. The rhythm changes constantly, creating a stressing atmosphere bringing you in a state of insanity. The screaming vocals intensify this feeling of anxiety, dragging you deeper in the dark world of “Merkur”. Lyrics are half in German, half in English and they deal with dark, personal, melancholic and nostalgic themes through a fantasy filter…
Overall “Merkur” is one of the best progressive black metal albums around and if you are a fan of these genres, you must definitely check them. The CD is released by an unknown label, Zeitgeister that has also some other interesting bands (Woburn House, Valborg, Ekpyrosis, Kosmos Wald, Island, Gruenewald, Slon) in different music styles. I believe that Klabautamann deserve much more recognition than what the have so far and I hope they will manage to have better distribution. You can visist their myspace page for more info and samples.
Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos