Review by Alex on April 25, 2021.
One of Switzerland's most respected black metal bands has returned to the icy mountains to shovel out yet another work of mysticism, bleakness, frigid atmospheres and rage. Paysage D'Hiver has been a long-standing pillar of true ambient/atmosphere black metal that continues to amaze listeners with eclectic auroras. Not going to lie l, knowing of his past work, another Im Wald was an ongoing thought since the announcement of a new full-length record. But that would be unfair, Im Wald was a record of majestic beauty and might, something I don’t think can and should be replicated by Paysage D'Hiver.
Geister has had many a spins now and with all honesty, while the music itself is what I would come to expect from a Passage D'Hiver album, there seems go be something missing or rather, something/s added that may/may not deter listeners depending on your black metal preferences.
The first element lies within the production of Geister which sees Paysage D'Hiver take on a more discernable approach whereas you can almost make out what is being said even though still having the signature screeching sort of gasp that you’d be more familiar with on earlier releases . This may have been used to facilitate more audible keyboard synth as on tracks such as 'Bluet' and 'Undā' as early point outs. What you’d so notice is that windy sound has been pushed further into the background contrast to be a dominating factor as on Im Wald and entries along that line. Thus, it creates the feeling that this decision to place more of a spotlight on the actual music has came at a compromise for the overall atmosphere; was it worthwhile? Hence said, the music itself is dynamic, the drumming is simple and as referenced earlier, the vocals can now be heard with a bit more definition. Mostly residing within the regions of mid paced to fast drumming, the music ascends and descends with the aid of backing keyboards that'd manifest similar atmospheres to those heard on Im Wald, that though not as potent contribute to the character and identity of em>strong>Geister that is still aided by that windy gust heard in quieter moments and closing sections of some songs.
Now while this may not be an album of that caliber, 'Āschä' begins to ramp up the atmospherics with more prevalent keyboard backdrops utilized that'd trickle down to 'Wärzā' which effectively uses the drums and guitars to toggle between a depression or increase of a tempo. Either instance is temporal but does a remarkable job of eroding and re-erecting the atmosphere. This effect continues with 'Schtämpfä' and the tracks to follow that’d lead you to the closing.
The sound of the swirling and whistling wind after every track somewhat compensates for the cleaner production to an extent and you’d even notice that a more visceral vocal screech is reinstituted with aforementioned 'Schtämpfä' and is maintained for the remaining tracks that helps in somewhat redeeming that signature Paysage D'Hiver sound. The sound of the ghost on some tracks such as 'Gruusig' and 'Schtāmpfä' creates a haunting effect which the former sounding as though a ghastly entity is idly lurking within a storm-swept forest and the latter emitting a feeling of some devilish figure franticly searching for an entry into somewhere. Those samples carry through to the final track 'Geischtr' that uses perhaps the strongest ambient aura on Geister to create a most magical and depressing closing to yet another great album. Hence the answer is yes, the cleaner production used to highlight the musicianship was worthwhile and did not necessarily harm the image and general ideological aesthetics of Paysage D'Hiver and Geister.
Rating: 8.3 out of 10253