Martin : Ah... The Germans. Although magazines like Ablaze used to shed light on dozens of German black metal bands, often emphasizing how painfully daft many of them were rather than promoting them, it is clear that things have been changing through the years. Not unlike their fellow countrymen Secrets Of The Moon, East Germany's Semen Datura offer a particularly regal, artistic interpretation of Teutonic black metal with their third album, 'Einsamkeit'.
Rather than going straight for the jugular, 'Einsamkeit' gradually gathers momentum. Slow, majestic riffs keep the tension high right until Semen Datura burst into full black metal fury. The balance between, and juxtaposition of, these two extremes adds a welcome sense of wholeness to these ten craftily written songs. Naming influences is rather difficult as Semen Datura's sound is quite original, but these German do resemble old Borknagar and the aforementioned Secrets Of The Moon during their more majestic moments, while coming close to 'Rebel Extravaganza' era Satyricon during more straightforward, elitist passages.
The production might be comparatively Spartan but it is very effective, capturing the sound of a band playing, organically and authentically. What stands out is that vocalist/guitarist Conrath von Auerswald, despite being the main creative force behind the band, has left a great deal of sonic headroom for the wonderful, rather dominant bass work and the versatile drumming to thrive. The only slight point of criticism lies in the heavily distorted vocals; a more natural, unprocessed vocal sound would have suited the release better, especially since Von Auerswald's vocals appear to be convincing enough to work well without effects.
Singing mainly in his native tongue, Von Auerswald reaffirms that German can be a beautiful language if used well. His lyrics have a poetic quality that should even appeal to those who do not understand the language. The harsh 'Marschbefehl', easily the fastest and most punishing song on the album. shows the more authoritative aspect of the German language to its full extent though.
Those on the lookout for profound, intelligent and competently crafted black metal should certainly give 'Einsamkeit' a try. With an album like this Semen Datura definitely deserve some more attention than they have had so far.