Thränenkind – The Elk (Lifeforce Records)

Wednesday, 31st July 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Labels…we need ‘em.  Every day there are more people on this planet than there were the day before.  More ideas, more information and more bands.  We can lament or rejoice in that, but that’s ultimately a worthless exercise.  How can one stand out?  Moreover, how does one attract the right people to themselves?  The mechanism we use for primary direction is a label of some form or another.

There is an ocean of grey in between a label and a description, and I won’t attempt to dissect that.  While trying to describe Thränenkind, I came up with “post-hardcore depressive ecogaze.”  To my delight, I found that Thränenkind is also keen on labels and claim “vegan straightedge post-metal”.  It seems I wasn’t too far off.

Modern Germany is a fertile place for young leftists (and ultra-leftists) to create and rally.  It’s also a beautiful country with verdant landscapes that anybody can appreciate.  On Thränenkind’s full-length debut, The Elk, these Germans create a lush, textured and dreamy soundscape that evokes so-called Cascadian black metal (bands such as Agalloch and Wolves in the Throne Room), but without the “black metal” part.

This is “post” music, and “post-what?” is the question.  Thränenkind seems to prefer “post-metal” (versus my post-hardcore diagnosis) so we’ll go with that.  Regardless of the label in question, it’s shoegazey and feels like a rainy dream in a Bavarian pasture.  It is melancholic with some moments of hopeful beauty.  It is introspective but also has an agenda, effectively using some sampling about militant environmentalism “Forest part 1 (The Veil)” and in describing the splendor of observing an elk, on the title track.  The guitars are “Agalloch-ian” at times and this music definitely stays on the metal side of rock music, meaning:  I don’t think a strictly indie rock listener would dig this.  Harsh vocals are usually a firm dividing line.

All in all, it’s a solid album if a little uneventful.  I don’t think this has appeal to a broad range of metal fans, but it is worth a listen to those with a taste for the depressive side of melodic heavy music. Highlight: “The Story of Permanence.”

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