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Porta Nigra - Weltende review


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Band: Porta Nigra
Album: Weltende
Release date: July 2023

01. Es Ist Krieg
02. Götterblut
03. Völkerbrand
04. Verlorene Paradiese
05. Bestienschlund
06. Die Himmlische Revolution
07. Weltende
08. Triebgeschwärme
09. Hora Mortis

The Mayan calendar got it wrong. Weltende, the end of the world, arrived in 2023, not 2012.

Porta Nigra, named presumably after a Roman city gate in Trier (or, perhaps, named after the Black Gate of Mordor in Latin), are a German band who play an undefined genre-blender of metal about war and suffering. I only know one of their previous albums, 2015's Kaiserschnitt. That album was very critical and mocking of the German Kaiserreich and concerned itself with exposing the senselessness and horrific loss of life in battles such as the Battle of Verdun in WWI. The title track of Kaiserschnitt, describing the birth and parodying the reign of the last German emperor (“Kaiser”) Wilhelm II, also has a double meaning because the title is the German term for a cesarean section but can also obviously refer to the “cut (execution?) of the emperor”.

Anyway, I'm very fond of Kaiserschnitt (and whoever hasn't listened to it yet needs to go check it out straight away!). Therefore, I greatly anticipated what Porta Nigra’s 2023 release could offer. Their fourth and newest album is called Weltende, German for “end of the world”. A very fitting title, as it turns out, as this album continues the focus on the horrors of war. There also seem to be several references to God or many gods, but it's unclear whether there's a punishment from the gods or war among the gods. (As I couldn't find any official lyrics to read, I have no choice but to listen with my German ear.) For those who can understand some of the German lyrics, there is an especially nice recurring element: throughout the album, there are audio samples of apocalyptic yet very poetic descriptions. For instance, the last two minutes of the title track detail how the world slowly goes silent as mankind and all life dies to clouds of poisonous gas: (This was easier to transcribe as it's purely in spoken word.)

“Das Gift hing gelb wie Wolken über den Städten
Millionen Leichen lagen auf dem Asphalt
Jeder dachte, dem Tod entgehen
Keiner entging dem Tod
Und die Welt wurde leer
Das Gift war überall
Es lief die Wüste entlang
Und es schwamm übers Meer
Die Menschen lagen gebündelt wie faulenden Gärten
Andere hingen wie Puppen zum Fenster hinaus
Die Tiere im Zoo schrien schrecklich bevor sie starben

Und langsam löschten die großen Hochöfen aus
Dann verschwand im Meer beladenen Toten
Und weder Weinen noch Lachen war mehr in der Welt
Die Flugzeuge irrten mit tausend toten Piloten unter dem Himmel
Und sanken brennend ins Feld
Jetzt hatte die Menschlichkeit endlich erreicht, was sie wollte
Zwar war der Tod nicht ausgesprochen human
Die Erde war aber endlich still und zufrieden
Und folgte völlig beruhigt ihre bekannte elliptische Bahn”

English Translation:

“The poison hung yellow like clouds over the cities
Millions of corpses lay on the asphalt
Everyone thought to escape death
No one escaped death
And the world became empty
The poison was everywhere
It ran along the desert
And it swam across the sea
People lay bundled like rotting gardens
Others hung out the window like dolls
The animals in the zoo screamed terribly before they died

And slowly the great blast furnaces went out
Then the laden dead disappeared into the sea
And neither weeping nor laughter was left in the world
The airplanes wandered under the sky with a thousand dead pilots
And sank burning into the field
Now humanity had finally achieved what it wanted
Admittedly, death wasn't decidedly humane
But the Earth was finally quiet and content
And followed its familiar elliptical path in complete peace”

Come on, tell me you don't get chills from reading that! Anyway, that's probably enough analysis of the lyrics. Let's go to the instruments, shall we? Well, on Kaiserschnitt, Porta Nigra played a style that is quite hard to pin down in one genre. With a vague mix of black metal, doom metal, and punk, it's safe to put them under the umbrella of “avant-garde metal”. On Weltende, the music is unfortunately less unhinged, less unique, and less immediately catchy than Kaiserschnitt. Whether it's the atmospheric tremolo-picking of the first track or the faster pace of “Götterblut”, they seem to be lacking a really impactful punch that, for instance, Kaiserschnitt readily provided in the form of super-heavy mid-tempo rhythm riffs. Alas, the first half of the album goes through the motions, slightly reminiscent of their past style, yet never quite leaving a lasting impact.

Luckily, this starts to change near the half-way point in the tracklist. After the atmospheric track “Bestienschlund”, “Die himmlische Revolution” hits the listener with some crazy and chaotic guitar-work. The quality of the songwriting suddenly begins to increase with every passing song. The title track lands a really rattling punch to the gut and concludes with that aforementioned bone-chilling audio sample. But Porta Nigra not only excel with their ominous atmosphere, as the next song, “Triebgeschwärme”, boasts the best fast-paced riffs and guitar solos on the album. The fun, frenzied, sonic hurricane of guitars feels pleasantly reminiscent of some of the more aggressive songs on Kaiserschnitt such as “Ich-Zerfall”. The last song on Weltende, “Hora Mortis”, slows down the pace again, starting with tranquil piano playing and an acoustic guitar melody. Again, the glory of past albums is briefly reawakened as “Hora Mortis” uses the phrase “Der letzte Ton”, making a direct reference to the last song on Kaiserschnitt, which ended in a similarly melancholic fashion.

In conclusion, Weltende’s second half of songs is clearly the better side of the album. The relatively lukewarm opening songs are somewhat redeemed by the strong finish that displays slow songs of menacing ambience, fast tracks of aggressive musicianship, and elegantly unnerving spoken passages. While Kaiserschnitt still remains far more engaging, catchy, and overall superior to my ears, Porta Nigra show on Weltende that they are still capable of creating chilling songs which effectively convey the multi-faceted terror of war.

Written on 27.11.2023 by The sign of good music is the ability to both convey and trigger emotion.


Comments: 4   Visited by: 49 users
29.11.2023 - 10:16
Nicely written. However I prefer the more catchy first half of the album and dont find those tracks boring at all. Völkerbrand reminds me more than any song of Kaiserschnitt. Hora Mortis could have been on the debut. However. The weird Kaiserschnitt remains the most unique.
29.11.2023 - 10:40
Rating: 7
Nocturnal Bro
Written by Kaiserschnitt on 29.11.2023 at 10:16

Nicely written. However I prefer the more catchy first half of the album and dont find those tracks boring at all. Völkerbrand reminds me more than any song of Kaiserschnitt. Hora Mortis could have been on the debut. However. The weird Kaiserschnitt remains the most unique.

Nice username
Huh, it's funny how two fans of Kaiserschnitt can have totally different views on Weltende. I guess that's the beauty of subjectivity. It would be boring if everyone agreed on everything, after all. Anyway, I'm glad you still liked the review
11.12.2023 - 23:09
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Man translate every German band German song Lyric what's in ms database in English till next summer.
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''
I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
12.12.2023 - 01:09
Rating: 7
Nocturnal Bro
Written by Bad English on 11.12.2023 at 23:09

Man translate every German band German song Lyric what's in ms database in English till next summer.

A tempting suggestion... German lyrics in metal do tend to be very poetic, I find (See Nocte Obducta), or at least very cleverly written (like Japanische Kampfhörspiele)

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