Music And A Dram: Die Lederpredigt by Folterkammer paired with Sometimes Goats by Birds Fly South
I’ve been a fan of Andromeda Anarchia’s music released under her DARKMATTERS moniker, so I was excited to hear her newer work with Folterkammer. I mean, the band name just exudes metal intensity and weirdness (the name is German for ‘torture chamber’). Die Lederpredigt features quite the concept: fairly approachable black metal but paired with alternating operatic vocals—and I mean actual opera-style singing, not just ‘angelic’ female vocals—and harsh vocals. Oh yeah, and the lyrics are all in German. And it’s something about a vengeful goddess and oppressive religious structures. And it’s pretty disturbing—y’know, in a good way.
Opener “Die Nänie” throws some churchy organ washes out for mood, then right away we come to the album’s promise, whereby Andromeda Anarchia introduces her double-throated vocals. Real, honest-to-goodness (evilness?) opera juxtaposed with harsh vocals like wicked guttural imprecations. Think Maria Callas and Gollum, not your standard black metal apathetic unintelligibility. There’s soaring, spaghetti western-esque clean guitar lines, rattling train-car drums, and a sense that the walls are closing in.
These building blocks remain across the album’s seven tracks, albeit with plenty of dynamics and subtle complexities. “Die Elegie” throws in some cathedral bells and a strolling, at times orthogonal guitar line. “Das Sinngedicht” employs intertwined organ and guitar to majestic effect even as Anarchia sounds like a demon literally in the process of destroying the world, then telling you all about it. Closing mini-epic “Das Zeugnis” incorporates elements of doom amidst an intense, theatrical vocal performance even more impressive than what’s come before. Claustrophobic, but intense, but creepy, but majestic, but fist-pumping, but conceptual—Folterkammer have turned in a slab of black metal featuring far more shades of black than come in your standard Crayola box.
How about some liquid accompaniment for our listening?
Sometimes Goats by Birds Fly South (Greenville, SC) makes an impression immediately with that goat’s head label. It’s so classically death metal (apart from the legibility of the script) whilst making quite the beer joke (go look up ‘bockbier’). But what’s in the glass? The beer pours a medjool date reddish brown body with creamy, caramel-coloured foam that sheets the glass in lace. Pretty good-looking, even for a doppelbock. The nose is relatively subdued, with toasty bread crust, general maltiness, and just a hint of dark fruit and earthy hops. On the tongue there’s an immediate wash of medjool date flesh, medium-toasted bread crust, both grainy & bready malty sweetness, and medium-low earthy hop bitterness. It’s a pleasant, cohesive progression of flavours and drinks pretty dry overall, bitterness lingering in the finish. I know Birds Fly South make solid beers, but still, I was bracing myself a bit—too many US breweries swing high ABV beers cloyingly sweet and take lagering to mean pitching a different strain of yeast and little else. Not so here. If anything, Sometimes Goats might benefit from a touch more dark fruit sweetness, but the overall dry touch here lends drinkability and makes the beer a splendid pairing for the operatic, avante garde black metal of Folterkammer.