After the release of two impressive studio albums and a few EPs and splits, my expectations for the new Urfaust full-length were obviously and logically pretty high. Because this formidable Dutch duo is known to be among the innovators of black metal, having crafted its own easily distinguishable sound, I expected nothing less than another release that pushes the boundaries of the genre and challenges our senses with a blistering musical experience.
The album starts off with “Vom Gesicht und Rätsel,” a typical Urfaust song with medieval-tinged guitar themes accompanied by IX’s trademark haunting singing/screaming. The title track is like a trip into the abyss, a pitch-black soundscape created with the help of eerie chanting, very slow, ritualistic-like drumming, and a great dark ambient closing part that only intensifies the gloomy atmosphere. “Das Kind mit dem Spiegel” lifts us from the abyss and takes us on an astral journey in search of an escape from the earthly anguish. Or perhaps on a journey in search of emotional cleansing? The state of dark meditation and depression returns with “Der Mensch, die kleine Narrenwelt,” a slow, dirge-like song with quite an otherworldly feeling overall. On “Ein leeres Zauberspiel” the band picks up the rhythm and provides the fastest and arguably most uplifting song on the album, only to drag us back to the doom and gloom on the next track, the electronically-tinged and ice-cold “Der hässlichste Mensch” that could have fit very well on their “Drei Rituale Jenseits des Kosmos” EP in my opinion. The album closes with the emotionally-charged „Der Zauberer,” a song that could make even the Devil weep at times. A worthy finish indeed.
All in all, “Der freiwillige Bettler” is yet another strong release from the Dutch masters and a testament to their ability to intoxicate and forever possess you with their outstanding musical craftsmanship. Just put the headphones on and immerse yourselves into the music.