Minenwerfer - Feuerwalze review
|Release date:||March 2023|
01. Cemetery Fields
03. Eternal Attrition
05. Sturmtruppen III (Sommekämpfer)
06. Shrapnel Exsanguination
07. Labyrinthine Trench Sectors
"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."
I don't know how many of you have seen the recent adaptation of All Quiet On The Western Front, since it even just won Best Foreign Picture at the Oscars, pretty much the only category not to be won by Everything Everywhere All At Once. It's pretty visually stunning, and though it doesn't perfectly cover the themes of the book in the same way that the 1930 movie did, it did showcase the horrors of war pretty well. But as someone who also consumed a lot of WW1 content like playing Battlefield 1 with the homies every now and then, I rarely think of "God, this war was awful" but rather "Oh fuck, I died again, now I have to respawn" while playing, and while All Quiet On The Western Front does all it can do to be immersive, I'll always enjoy it as entertainment watching from afar. How do you make an anti-war film without at least partaking in the fact that it's spectacle? And, in the same vein, and closer to home, how do you make a anti-war album, one where the metal music is supposed to emulate the horrific nature of war, when you're shot in the foot by the fact that metal is just too awesome for it.
"Awesome" is not a word I like to use too much, because it feels to much like the "You, sir, won the internet" crowd, but here I feel it is proper. Metal is awesome, where brutality and intensity is something that we revel in as listeners. So just like one can get desensitized to gore in media, one can also get sensitized to portrayals of brutality in music. So there's a thin line there where said brutality feels more like glorifying war. Like Sabaton making chest pumping power metal anthems about some of the most unnecessary loses of life. Other WW1 themed bands like 1914 and Kanonenfieber can sometime irk close to that pitfall, but they do generally take some very obvious precautions to make sure that the war in their depiction clearly comes across as negatively horrific, even while making awesome music. Minenwerfer, the oldest of these extreme metal WW1 bands, aren't necessarily as obvious, and even if the iron cross in their logo might bat some eyes, they still thread among the horrific side of the line.
In the end, it's not really Minenwerfer's responsibility to be vehemently and unquestionably anti-war. If we were overly critical of any depiction of war in music that was too glorifying, we'd be left without Bolt Thrower. And coming back to Minenwerfer, Feuerwalze does a pretty good job of using it's intensity more so than the previous album, Alpenpasse did. Like a lot of people, that was the album that got me into the band, so it was only after visiting their older work that I noticed why that stood out so much. Alpenpasse uses the atmospheric and melodic side of black metal much more, creating a sound that's a bit more accessible, and that made sense thematically, since even though it's about a war going on over there, the Alps are still fucking majestic. The mud and trenches of the Western front are not. Hence why Feuerwalze dives right back into a more filthy and pummeling sound, especially from the incessant blast beats, but without sacrificing some of the more melodic and atmospheric leanings of its predecessors, something very obvious in the melodic solos that permeate the record.
And perhaps it is better to detach Minenwerfer from the anti-war narrative, if the metal's inherent awesome quality stands against the immersion, better to enjoy Feuerwalze purely for how awesome the music is.
||Written on 14.03.2023 by|
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