German black metal has a storied tradition. And while Germany has been one of the most popular places for black metal fans to attend shows and festivals, the scene in Germany hasn’t been as proliferate as it has been in the past. German black metal may have few distinct traits that make it discernible from a wide array of black metal bands from Scandinavia and neighboring France, but German black metal is more largely-known for heavier riffs, aggressive tendencies and few sojourns into progressive styles. Enter self-released album Aus der Asche by German black metal band Der Rote Milan, and German black metal may not be quite due for a renaissance, but Der Rote Milan offers the black metal fan an array of other influences to the black metal sound that few bands in its scene attempt with mastery and conviction.
The tremolo riffs wind down chord transitions that may inspire bleak rainy days filled with icy black metal fury emanating from the black metal fan’s speakers. Easily, the rung notes and staccato string play is what separates Der Rote Milan from the pack of pretenders. Fond of icy ringing notes and folk/classical music- inspired string-plucking peppered throughout Aus der Asche, Der Rote Milan plays black metal with heart and inspired passion. The guitars are honed in on catchy but above-ordinary structure and style. Der Rote Milan present as a much more enjoyable version of Moribund Records alum Necronoclast’s style of play. The occasional dabbling into folk acoustic instrumentation is also very credible on Aus der Asche.
When the band blasts and the tremolo riffs feature a rapid assault on the guitar strings, Der Rote Milan’s sound plays at a level both competent and accessible. After all, black metal in its heyday featured plenty of punk influence on personality and sound, so bands that play black metal that many find difficult to relate to or enjoy on a fundamental level will have to live and die on music that eludes easy appreciation. Der Rote Milan easily proves that back-to-the-basics black metal crafted with good ideas and quality instrumentation is still quite relevant in the present. Knowing just what influences they incorporate the most, Der Rote Milan forges a style and sound that pays fitting tribute to black metal progenitors of yore, while displaying an originality of its own. The riffs aren’t hackneyed attempts at resuscitating the circa second wave black metal template without much deviation and innovation.
Sad that bands like Der Rote Milan will never get the attention they deserve, in lieu of major label fodder that consistently moves through the rosters with varying shades of mediocrity and pretension, I am only happy to recommend this band and this album to black metal underground worshippers the world over. Aus der Asche isn’t mindblowing, but it is a great casual listen for black metal fans that treasure-hunt underground gems that don’t present more parodies to bedroom black metal of such inferior quality. Like lesser known bands No Empathy and Kult, Der Rote Milan’s music is addictive enough to enjoy for repeated listens on both bleak wintry mornings or hot, dirty, black summer nights. Like a bonfire lit in the midst of soulful rumination, black metal like this was meant to last the test of time. Own a copy of an underground release worth its essential salts. If you’re not convinced, give Der Rote Milan’s Aus der Asche a listen here on Nine Circles, and let the discussions on quality underground acts include venerable bands like Der Rote Milan, amongst others.
Long live underground black metal.
– Al Necro