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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Review: Todesfall – Nine Books of Cosmic Antebellum

Label: Depressive Illusions Records

Date: February 18th, 2021

Even if it has become a custom these days, I still cannot grasp the necessity for a newcomer on the scene to debut with a full length album. Granted, there are cases when a band is able to offer a spectacular album right from the start, but those are rare exceptions to the rule. Most records like this end up being short of final touch. One which stems from a series of trial and error that a demo recording is able to provide.

On the other hand, as the good people of Encyclopaedia Metallum claim, “Nine Books of Cosmic Antebellum” is limited to just sixty-six copies (not including the digital release), so the question of naming it an album remains open.

Call it as you will, the debut of this Serbian entity provides for an intriguing listening. Though the duo might seem inexperienced, it is fairly obvious they’ve listened and properly understood a fair share of acts which helped formulate their sound. The shortest possible description of the album would be to call it a more primitive take on Dissection’s legacy. The cosmic philosophy Jon seemed to explore by the end of his existence in his flesh cocoon is somewhat expanded here. Lyrically, that is. When it comes to music, his outputs are somewhat regressed with Todesfall.

In other words, the melodic death metal is present throughout “Nine Books of Cosmic Antebellum”, but the melodic black metal foundation, that Dissection fused ever so specifically, remains unused here. To be more exact, Todesfall prefers to delve within the prevalently raw black metal spectrum. Don’t get me wrong, we are far from the wannabe, early Norwegian, primitive, can’t produce to save their lives, boring and derivative black metal. In this case, this soundscape is just a basis on which to build an attention-catching and well-formulated music.

To make matters even further diverse, in the slower sections, the duo bears some melancholic doom metal traces. It would almost seem to fit to the label’s usual roster of depressive doom / black metal bands. These segments are probably the weakest points of the record, since they have a tendency to bring along the least interesting and diverse material. Luckily, most of them have a fairly short span and as such are welcome to bring more shades to the whole.

Now, not everything is fine and dandy on “Nine Books of Cosmic Antebellum”. I must note that Todesfall has the know-how needed to execute a record with so much details involved. Their skills with arranging and performing music they know inside and out are as clear as they can be. The trouble is with crafting individual parts. They are simply not catchy enough, which is especially important in the genre they are trying to convey. I have to admit, there are moments on the record that really do grasp the attention. Overall impression remains long after audition that this is a fine album. However, to remember any specific detail seems to be virtually impossible.

Okay, that is not a big fault for a debut recording, especially when it carries more than enough potential for future growth. Other thing is the production that could have been a tad stronger and definitely cleaner. That would certainly bring out a punch to the face and clarity to the parts that would benefit from it. Still, that is yet another aspect that should not be a problem for the next Todesfall release.

I’m also not that big fan of combining handcrafted and clearly linear (computerized) artwork. Most people will probably look beyond it or simply not even notice it. However, with much attention to details on the musical side of things, this could’ve been avoided too.

Okay, that is quite enough. Wouldn’t want to demolish the morale in the Todesfall camp, given that I have in my hands a strong debut. Minor mistakes aside, there is a lot of promise on “Nine Books of Cosmic Antebellum”. If it is indeed a very limited release, I would suggest you go and pick it up ASAP. Otherwise, let us all hope it will see another press. And bigger one. It’s my honest opinion that the album deserves it.