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Kaltherzig – Songs Made Of Solitude And Pain (2014) - Review

Band: Kaltherzig
Album title: Songs Made Of Solitude And Pain
Release date: 28th March 2014
Label: Cold Insanity Music

01. Scream Of Pain
02. Single
03. Memories And Dreams
04. Songs Made Of Solitude And Pain
05. Time To Say Goodbye
06. Messiah
07. Confession
08. Islander (feat. Rebentisch)
09. Runaway (feat. Margret)
10. Hoład
11. Rebirth
12. Nature's Wonders
13. More Than Saint

Known sometimes as the “Eastern European Blutengel” after its main influence, one cannot go without noticing, there is a bit of a resemblance between the bands just in the sole name. If Blutengel merged the German words “blut” (blood) and “engel” (angel) to create a fine combination of warmth and coldness, the Belarus Kaltherzig simply joined the German words “kalt” (cold) and “herzig” (lovely) and formed a name, with a similar characteristic. But not to think Kaltherzig is a copycat: the band has been previously known as Kalt, but there was another band with that name.

Moving on to the band’s newly released full length, I can’t go pass mentioning “Made Of” in the album title is a bit bearish and without it, a simple “Songs Of Solitude And Pain” would sound much more poetic. It could be just that the thought appeared in my head because it would resemble to - one of my personally favourite albums – Songs Of Faith And Devotion by the masters of synth pop, Depeche Mode. Speaking of that very electronic genre, synth pop is the basic sound Kaltherzig introduces with this album, with a heavy influence of modern gothic rock and dark wave. Maybe it should just be called “synth goth”. And by that very blend of closely related styles, this release marks a new era in the Kaltherzig existence. Besides Alexander Krupp, the main force behind the Kaltherzig, being the composer, songwriter and vocalist, you can also hear the gentle voice of Nika Noname on the record, who left the band in 2012, while recording the album. For a little bit of diversity, on track “Islander”, Sven Rebentisch stepped behind the microphone and on “Runaway” we can hear the lovely Margret Aleshkevich as well. 

The sound on Songs Made Of Solitude And Pain is driven by dense keyboard melodies, sometimes well-directed and sometimes a bit hectic drumming and gentle piano tunes, which form lament and sorrowful ambient. A lot of emphasis is on the vocal work. While vocals really are a centre of the album, it is also unfortunately its weakest point. Don’t get me wrong, I am not claiming the vocalists sound pour, but the vocals melodies between Krupp and Noname seem disharmonized. The vocal parts, which are sung simultaneously by both, sound out of tune and lack focus, which brings a chaotic disturbance and a certain portion of inner collision in the songs. It’s much more enjoyable and pleasant to listen to the songs that feature vocals singing each of their own vocal lines, as they somehow strive towards each other and create the sombre and mournful energy as their harmonies entwine.

With Songs Made Of Solitude And Pain it feels as you’re walking with Dante through the 9 circles of Hell. Opening with “Scream Of Pain” and followed by “Single”, you are introduced to a world of silent grief though blithesome melodies. And as you go deeper and deeper, the world around you gets darker and more painful. But there are rays of hope that will cast a gentle beam of light and remind you of whom you are.  One of the highlights of the album, the almost 7 minutes in length “Time To Say Goodbye”, embodies all the best elements Kaltherzig incorporate in the music. Starting with a lengthy, melancholic piano introduction that intensifies as the drumming kicks in, it traverses into a really spiritual and dismal melody, with a beautiful story to tell. At the beginning you can feel the heaviness of ache and with the intense chorus that follows, it evokes a palette of emotions. You can actually feel the sorrow as you’re gasping for air while you try to find relief in the deepest and darkest moments of your life. “Messiah” won’t let you cold as well, being the most experimental and tenebrous song of the album. Radiating drearier ambient, I could not help but wonder, how the song would sound if it would be recorder with a slower tempo and with the addition of deep and transfixing vocals in the style of the legendary Andrew Eldritch from The Sisters Of Mercy or the modern deathglam God of Chertograd, Whiplasher Bernadotte, from Deathstars. Slower and more darksome ambient would fit perfectly into this song. “Memories And Dreams” emanates mournfulness and anguish, veiled in a tender and beautiful melody, whilst “Rebirth” surprises with a heavy and up-beat bass line, which creates a pleasant vivacious and catchy tune. And as you approach the ending of your path through the circles, you are gently greeted by “Nature’s Wonder”, with its light-hearted and exceedingly warm melody. But the closing act is pitch-dark yet again. “More Than Saint” is the album’s most profound and heart-breaking ballad and so with 13 songs all together, the curtains fall and the theatre closes.

With a fine reduction of musical instruments, Kaltherzig's Songs Made Of Solitude And Pain will probably be to a likeing to fans of minimalistic electronic rhythms with gothic atmosphere. Though the album does hold a certain amount of diversity, it could still use a bolder approach. While the songs are not simplistic per se, I wish Kaltherzig would go further, darker and maybe incorporate some other elements in music: maybe add sampling or heavier bass-lines to create more hypnotizing and mystic energy. Perhaps in the style of Snakeskin’s haunting “Melissa” or asphyxiating “Furious Stars”. As the essence of the albums flows around themes of personal struggles and believes, inner ghosts and deep emotions, I surely hope Kaltherzig won’t become another cliché on the scene. But as said before, Songs Made Of Solitude And Pain mark a clean slate in the band’s timeline, so in that case this release marks a solid beginning in Kaltherzig’s sound, which will surely mature and evolve over the years.

Review written by: Ines
Rating: 7/10