Saturday, September 23, 2017

Review: Allerseelen - Anubis/Chairete Daimones

After a small period of respite, Gerhard Hallstatt’s Allerseelen project has seen a burst of activity in 2017: a brand new album, Dunkelgraue Lieder, comes two years after their last album Terra Incognita; an appearance on the Alpha Ī©mega compilation; and a brand new non-album single, Anubis/Chairete Daimones, the project’s first single since 2009’s Sonne Golthi-Ade.

Allerseelen 7" single - from personal collection

Allerseelen proper, since the 2010s, has definitely shifted its configuration from being a one-man project with a peppering of guests to something a more solid. The albums and releases have gotten more robust, while still maintaining that distinguished Allerseelen sound, with the same guest performers becoming more like recurring key personnel, with lots of crossover with collaborators of projects helmed by producer Marcel P. Marcel highlights this phenomenon in conjunction with his production duties for Anubis/Chairete Daimones:

The music of Allerseelen is constantly evolving with more styles, instruments, collaborators and even guest-vocalists. It’s a tapestry of music, if you will. A group-effort guided and directed by Gerhard. My part as a producer (totally separate from my part as a musician or vocalist) is to “bring everything together”. There are challenges, especially ambient noises (because some of the different track parts come from semi-professional studios). But over the last couple of years we’ve become a well-rehearsed and established team. Faye R. worked with me on Miel Noir songs, Voron and I have been doing a couple of tracks for Allerseelen together and Gerhard has come to rely on my production and arrangement ever since the MCD before the Rauhe Schale album. It may not be a “band” in the classical sense (like people meeting in real life and working stuff out in a room together), but it’s the kind of “musical alchemy” which Gerhard used to do by himself, done as a group.”

The first track, “Anubis,” features Algerian singer Faye R. on vocal duties. Faye R.’s cover of “Runes and Men” attracted the attention and friendship of Hallstatt and Marcel P., which opened up collaborations for both Miel Noir and Allerseelen. The Egyptian motif of “Anubis” was a natural fit for Faye R.: “...the song itself has that alternative Middle Eastern side which I already like, my voice is naturally like this, I embraced the song since the first time I heard it because I felt like it defined me.”

For Hallstatt, “Anubis” draws inspiration from a few different sources, the first being the Moon Tarot card as designed by Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris which depicts two towers with jackals. The dark imagery of the tarot card was the catalyst for the song, but Hallstatt also draws inspiration from coyotes, specifically a performance piece by Joseph Beuys, along with coyote quotations lifted from Carlos Castaneda and Charles Manson.

Anubis” is a jarring Allerseelen song in that it has a heavy metal atmosphere, without going full metal, showing the project actively incorporating other styles into the formula. The repetitive, gravelly industrial loops that is customary in an Allerseelen song are still present in the background, but emphasis has been placed on the metal-ish guitar, Arabian-inspired music flourishes, and the vocals from Faye R. which sound symphonic.

The second and final track, “Chairete Daimones,” is pure Allerseelen in both music composition and occult subject matter. Per Hallstatt, the genesis of the second track, “Chairete Daimones,” came from the desire to create a song about a Gnostic Ritual described by Friedrich Nietzsche in one of his letters:

[Nietzsche] decided to drink some red wine with friends who lived in other cities. At the same time [his friends] left [their] house[s] and drank on the street dark red wine – they drank one half but spilled and offered, sacrificed [the other] half of the wine to the demons with the words ‘Chairete Daimones’ (be greeted, demons). This was on 23rd October 1871, the exact time was ten in the evening. [Nietzsche] lived then in Basel, Switzerland, his friends in Berlin and Kiel. Demons in this context he did not consider as evil spirits but as benevolent powers, in the sense of the antiquity like Marc Aurel or also many centuries later in the writings of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.”

This is not the first time Allerseelen has explored the world of spirits, with the split album Barco Do Vinho with Sangre Cavallum and the song “Svyatoe Vino” from their Men Among the Ruins split album with Changes also being about libations. The music of “Chairete Daimones” throttles back to standard Allerseelen fare, with repetitive industrial loops and spoken-word style lyrics.

Limited to 200 copies, the Anubis/Chairete Daimones single is handsomely packaged: a white 7” vinyl with a hint of marbling, in a foldable sleeve with dark-impressionistic artwork by Laetitia Mantis, who has had artwork featured on releases from Allerseelen alumni projects Fahl and Sagittarius. Consumers who purchase the 7” directly from New Era receive an additional foldable sleeve with the band name and release title stamped in gold foil. Allerseelen being released by New Era seems like an odd choice since that label focuses on black metal. Per Hallstatt though, it was at New Era’s request that Allerseelen release a single with them: “The owner of the label asked us if we have something dark that may fit. So we decided to record for this special edition [release] two songs that have a rather dark and demonic atmosphere. Or twilight atmosphere. ...[We had a] layout that concentrated on the colours of blood and night but then thought that white vinyl could be a perfect contrast.” As nicely packaged and presented the release is, having a digital copy would have been a nice medium to have available, though it might degrade the limited/special edition aspect of the release.

Because of this, the Anubis/Chairete Daimones 7” single is a curio release, probably geared more toward the die-hard Allerseelen fans and completionists rather than a casual listener. Both songs are executed well though and are canonical-sounding Allerseelen songs, with “Anubis” in particular showing unique dash of metal infusion.  

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