Swiss one-man project Paysage D’Hiver’s latest album Im Wald packs a classic-feeling burst of viciously caustic yet richly atmospheric post-black metal. There’s a significant helping of gripping melody running through the mix — especially on particularly emotionally compelling tracks, like the blistering “Alt” — and these melodies feel overwhelmed in a blizzard of ominous, distortion-driven atmosphere that helps make the album feel so blistering that it’s as if the listener themselves has suddenly been whisked away to the middle of a raging snowstorm.
There’s a very real sincerity to the crazed upheaval of the record. As the lashes of guitar melody streak through the album like especially frigid, icy bursts of wind, the experience can’t help but feel deeply moving and unsettling.
Most of the songs are quite lengthy. Eight of the thirteen songs are over ten minutes long, and one of those eight (the album’s closer) is almost twenty minutes long. There’s a strangely alluring sonic richness that keeps just about every moment of the songs’ immersive experiences feeling fresh.
That captivating allure feels well-exemplified at moments like the track “Stimmen im Wald,” which features some of the first “breaks” in the album’s viciousness outside of a couple of interlude-oriented tracks. On “Stimmen im Wald,” the more prominent guitar melody and breaks from the almost relentless blast beats feel expertly interwoven with the fundamental “meat” of the overall album, which includes laceratingly frigid yet somehow deeply emotionally moving guitar melody and consistently chaotic drum blasts. Seriously — the blast beat barrage continues on and on throughout the album, almost endlessly sometimes. On “Stimmen im Wald,” when the blast beats and their associated chaos fall back to reveal raw yet especially powerful and even somewhat bombastic guitar riffing, the effect feels somewhat like stumbling onto some swirling whirlwind of snow in a forest clearing. Awe and wonder in the face of a towering grandiosity are inescapably mixed right into the music.
Ultimately, there are some rich dynamics mixed into the album that might be surprising at first glance considering the frigid rawness of the overall presentation. The eleven minute-long “Flug,” for instance, is a somber, drum-less track that focuses on ambiance, including plenty from the hoarse-sounding guitar. “Le rêve lucide,” which immediately follows, jumps right back into physically vicious, galloping riffing and drum attacks that maintain ruthlessly forward energy even while soaked in raw atmosphere. The song has what sounds like a violin running right alongside the absolutely vicious riffing, which helps exemplify just how extraordinarily emotionally elevating that the song really is. Meanwhile, among other dynamics, the riffing on “Weiter, immer weiter” gets a bit slower, comparatively speaking, which delivers a sonically expressed feeling of a kind of aching physical agony.
Across Im Wald, Paysage D’Hiver has turned the power of the most vicious, pummeling raw black metal into the fuel for a soul-scarring solitary-feeling trek into the oblivion of a wintry forest. Of course, an actual physical forest doesn’t actually come with the album — it’s just metaphorical. Or is it?
Listen to the album below! It’s out via Kunsthall Productions, which Paysage D’Hiver’s mastermind, who goes by Wintherr, helps run.