Germ – Escape (Prophecy Productions)

Monday, 28th March 2016
Rating: 8.5/10

Full disclosure: Every time yours truly writes a review about a Tim Yatras-related project, mention of his Grey Waters project always happens. Now, there’s much more to Mr. Yatras than his now-defunct depressive/Katatonia homage project, but man, Below the Ever Setting Sun…what an album.

To the matter at hand, Germ is perhaps the most promising of Yatras’s many outfits (Austere, Woods of Desolation, etc.), as it’s the fertile combination of dazed post-black metal and post-rock. Previous efforts from the band (2012’s Wish and 2014’s Loss) were impactful, resonant efforts, but Escape feels like it’s the most realized of the bunch. Written about Yatras’s struggle with mental illness, Escape is both tortured and at times, beautiful, although that’s a term that should be used in context. The album is very much a giant heave into the spacious, art-like sphere of black metal.

His warped, spinning riff ideas are in full flight on the title track, but it’s “I’ll Give Myself to the Wind” that takes the whole album by storm. A harsh, ominous, yet airy number, “I’ll Give Myself to the Wind” pulls together all of the extensions of Yatras’s songwriting palette, having immense impact in the chorus where he drops in some spoken word/Goth bits amidst devastating guitar chimes.

Elsewhere, clean vocals make an appearance on “Under Crimson Skies,” while the dreary “The Old Dead Tree” (clearly Yatras HAS to know there’s an Italian band of the same name) and moving “Closer” augment the black-on-shoegaze premise that on Escape, finds Germ sounding like they’re now in control of the post-black metal game. It was about time.

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