Geist- Der Ungeist

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Israel’s Geist (not to be confused with the German group who recently changed their name to Eis) is the solo project of Ratimus, who has been involved with bands such as Bartholomeus Night and Mucous Scrotum. On the band’s debut album Der Ungeist Ratimus offers seven tracks of extremely raw black metal that move between intense blasting and chilling mid-tempo arrangements. Although the material doesn’t quite manage to have the same level of writing and icy riffs that some of the top tier acts in the genre have achieved there is still quite a bit of potential present throughout Der Ungeist and could be a sign of things still to come.

Der Ungeist was recorded live and didn’t receive any additional mastering, which gives it a very raw sound. However, like many of the older black metal bands that used this same type of sound Geist is able to ensure that raw doesn’t have to mean that the material is buried in an indecipherable wall of noise. While all of the songs are awash in harsh distortion it is fairly easy to make out the individual riffs and there is a surprising amount of clarity present that makes Ratimus’ work feel a bit more polished than your average one-man project. Stylistically the instrumentals move between fast paced blast beats that assault the listener with riffs that only seem to get louder as they progress and slower mid-tempo sections that produce some truly bone chilling arrangements. Geist is at its best during these slower passages, as songs like opener “Mord” produce distorted melodies that have a downright violent feel to them. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen nearly as much as it could, and I found that the second half of Der Ungeist wasn’t able to offer as strong hooks as the first half. The potential is definitely there, as the first couple of songs really grab you with their ideas but the album isn’t able to fully sustain it.

The vocal arrangements are an area where this project will grab listeners as Ratimus has the type of over the top distorted pitch that adds intensity to the material. This performance gives Geist some commonality with a number of depressive black metal groups, as there is the same style of blood curdling screaming and shrieking present. Despite the noise level created by the instrumentals Ratimus is able to break through the wall of sound and as a result the vocals remain one of the most prominent elements on Der Ungeist. It’s impressive just how much range there is throughout these songs, and there are a few moments where the vocals approach Bethlehem levels of ear splitting, tortured shrieks. This is one area that Geist seems to have down perfectly, and as long as the same level of intensity and momentum can be duplicated next time around there is nothing that needs to be changed.

Geist’s debut full length gets off to a strong start and is able to incorporate elements of traditional and depressive black metal into a noisy mix. But after the first few songs the writing doesn’t stand out nearly as much and the riffs don’t have the same type of twists and turns, which leaves Der Ungeist as a good but not great effort. Considering that this is the second piece of material Ratimus has released following a 2009 demo, he does seem to be on the right path and with a bit more development this project has the potential to become much stronger.

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