‘To Take Up The Cross’
Art Of Propaganda
(Released: 27 Oct 2014)
There are strong black undercurrents to the work of this German one-man project – and that’s despite the fact that mainman Niklas (AKA Nerrath) seems to have decided that suicide is not cool and has moved away from the kind of depressive black metal his previous outfit was associated with. While these songs were initially intended to be released under Niklas’s former Licht Erlischt monicker, ultimately this can be classified as a debut album. It’s as if he has deliberately cast aside any links with self-pity or self-loathing and taken life – and all the manifold pains that it brings – by the horns.
The result is a deeply personal and oddly life-affirming collection of slow, unhurried, plaintive tracks. The guitar tones are ugly, acidic and distorted, the sound of a lingering fury twisting into dissonant melancholy. They crash upon the rocks like huge dark waves, but do not flounder against the swirling currents, remaining buoyant enough to gasp for air. Big riffs are avoided in favour of atmosphere and emotion.
Niklas’s vocals vary between a kind of rough-edged hollering that wildly express sensations from elation to abject despair, and a more predominant melodic, clean style that is controlled and understated. The voice is imbued with too much energy to be called mournful, but it’s certainly not cheerful! Lyrically, this seems to be an exploration of pain, displacement, confusion, faith and redemption. In unison, it becomes an expansive, airy sound, raw and stripped bare, but glorious, as if emanating from a cathedral of its own making.
‘To Take Up The Cross’ is packed with numerous curious ideas and unusual angles, packaged together as a well-paced collection of musings. There are hints of Cross Vault, Pylon or Warning, but Latitude Egress perhaps currently lack the finesse of those bands. On occasion, the songs can drift along without fully capturing the imagination. A lack of differentiation between tracks reduces the adventure, although the seventh and final song, ‘To March Along The Desolate Peripheries Of Mind’ increases the tempo and launches into a Bathory/Hammerheart-style stomp, epic keyboards and all. It’s a stirring finale to an album that follows one man’s struggle to find meaning.