Wednesday 26 June 2024

Narzissus - Akt III: Erlösung

Labels: Shape Of Storms Records/Fiadh Productions

Formats: Vinyl/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 12 Jan 2024


1. Empor Zum Ideal

2. Erlösung

3. Vanitas/Victoria

4. Im Glanze Baden

5. Der G rö ß te Lohn

January of this year saw the newest release Akt III: Erlösung from Austrian black metal band Narzissus, which was also the debut release from new US label Shape Of Storms Records. It followed the band's 2020 EP releases Akt I: Wille and Akt II: Fall, which coincided with a name change from previous moniker Narziss. This vinyl pressing was also accompanied by a tape pressing from Fiadh Productions, which features alternative artwork (included below).

Over the last couple of years, I’ve found it more satisfying (musically) when I’ve purchased releases from less familiar bands and labels. Narzissus was a new name to me when I ordered this record as was Shape Of Storms Records, though the lineage of the label wasn’t. LP opener ‘Empor Zum Ideal’ sets off this journey into the unexpected with gentle guitar and clean vocals, provided by Amara. What follows from Narzissus is a lot more intense, though only in passages. The song flows through different movements that are both clean and harsh. Soothing balladry sits alongside punk-infused black metal in near perfect harmony.

The album’s title song ‘Erlösung’ sees Narzissus moving in a more heavy/black metal direction with less emphasis on calm atmospherics, but with no less melody. The guitar work is great and sits more than equally alongside the percussion and vocals, on fittingly the longest tome. Subtle choral and symphonic elements sit deeper in the mix but still add plenty of vibrancy. Obviously, every song has a surprise later on that renders anything I’ve just said irrelevant and it indeed comes in the form of Amara’s beautiful singing. Once again. I’m not complaining though.

‘Vanitas/Victoria’ rages with complete abandon straight from the get go. Blasting drums set the pace, which are more than matched by both frenetic and anthemic guitars (thanks to both Narzissus and Quentin Seewer). I did not expect to hear what sounds like classical/flamenco acoustic guitar on a black metal record, but nothing should surprise me anymore. Plus, it absolutely fits here as it breaks up the intensity brilliantly. As does the glorious clarinet playing of Siarhey Shylenkou at the song’s close.

‘Im Glanze Baden’ fills the speakers with orchestral ambience for a brief moment before Narzissus unleashes yet more martial black metal. Okay, it can’t be called war metal or anything like that but it does have that same straight-forward approach in between the melody that flourishes throughout. It’s again another song filled with urgency and it’s all the better for it.

‘Der Größte Lohn’ closes out the record with a barrage of crazed black metal featuring additional guitar from Vova Batrakov, which adds more virtuosity (if that was possible) and a genuinely listenable oompah-like percussive rhythm, before the warming clarinet of Matteo Zecchi and saxophone of Matthew Evans provide yet more jazz/blues tones later on. It’s a fantastic way to end an album that’s already bursting with exceptional musicality.

The vision of Narzissus is beyond words. Drawing from the extreme end of the musical spectrum as a backbone and then incorporating such skilful vocalists/musicians makes it greater still. Both Shape Of Storms Records and Fiadh Productions have helped to bring that vision to wider audiences as well as collectors of physical formats, but on reflection it’s Narzissus that deserves the greater attention (which is the aim of both labels anyway). Share this album with those who have not heard it, who aren’t afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone to who just like well-written heavy music. There are audiences everywhere, they just haven’t been tapped into yet.

You can stream and purchase Akt III: Erlösung as a name-your-price download below:-

It's also available to buy on limited vinyl/tape quantities there too or from the labels below:-

Shape Of Storms Records -

Fiadh Productions -

Narzissus -

Shape Of Storms Records -

Fiadh Productions -

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