Review by Alex Grindor on January 30, 2023.
An ominous barrage of war ambient is presented before you, slowly but surely growing stronger. And then, it all stops in a beat as raw drums and guitars dive into your ears, before being joined by anguished vocals. So begins In Stahlgewittern, the first full-length album by Feldgrau (translated as "field-gray", the color of the German armed forces up until 1989). This project, started in 2020, it's a great display of raw black metal, exalted by its lyrical content about human extinction and war (World War I to be exact).
Starting with the ominous intro 'Mobilmachung', it sets up the atmosphere in preparation for the music, which erupts immediately in 'Storm Of Steel' and barely grants respite. Despite the raw quality of the music, it is not a typical case of awful recording equipment. This entire album has been recorded properly, but polished to a minimum so as to not overproduce the final result. Guitars are frantic, yet atmospheric with a wide variety of riffs and a groove that is present all over the album. The bass has a notorious presence and weight on the record and it enhances the overall result. Drums are the most raw aspect of the album, yet it doesn't detract from the experience. They are played competently and keep the album at a steady pace. Vocals are not the best that I have heard, however I like this sort of "anguished-yet-commanding" vocal style employed by "Ravager", who's now the band's sole member and who's labor in the entirety of the record is commended. His vocals bring to mind someone who has lost everything in the War, yet still tries to keep it together to exalt and command whatever troops it may have left.
The album barely strays from the path of Raw Black Metal, with a constant pace and fury on every track, yet there is room for some deviation and experimentation in some tracks, like '22.4.1915' where it begins as a more doom metal song, only to return to the regular fury of the album. Riffs are atmospheric and rageful, but can also be sinister and tragic when required. Despite this, the lack of production in the drums makes it stand out a bit more than the other instruments (just a pinch of reverb could have been fine) and I do find the album to be "too groovy" at times, even more considering the lyrical subject exposed in this album. Then again, this is a personal preference, but I think that more furious musicianship could have yielded a better end result.
Overall, "Ravager" has done impeccable work with Feldgrau and I hope this first full-length is but a taste of more to come in the future. His vocals may not be convincing to everyone and the album's groove may be a bit too much (for me at least) but I enjoyed the album nonetheless. If you ever wanted "1914" to be more raw, then this may sate your hunger. If you love black metal as a whole, then In Stahlgewittern is a strong recommendation.
Rating: 8.1 out of 10711