Minenwerfer - Alpenpasse

"Minenwerfer" is German for "Mine thrower". "Alpenpasse" is German for "Alpine passes". I am staring at the cover artwork. It is a black and white photo of a soldier standing on the side of a steep snowy mountain above the clouds ready to shoot. The band's logo features an emblem similar to old European emblems mostly found in Germany, Poland, Hungary and Scandinavia. I prepare myself to experience black/war metal and proceed to pushing the play button.

The first sounds to come from the speakers are of doomy slow guitars playing a deadly melody over tons of distortion that is left to feedback. Noise supports nicely the warm melody. The samples from German speeches used create a war atmosphere. Minenwerfer are fond of themes around WWI. The melody soon turns to post-black metal with the depth, reverb and ambience as it is used from bands like Wolves In The Throne Room.
In the 3rd minute of the song, the Norwegian vocals break the serenity and a Scandinavian 2nd wave of black metal riff begins. The post-black melody can still be heard on the background. As the riff changes to mid tempo, the bass sounds higher in the mix. The synth work is necessary to distinct the band from typical black metal to a more symphonic form. Lord (Fra) and their 1998 "Behind The Curtain Of Darkness" full length came to my mind. An acoustic theme in the 9th minute of the song serves as the basis for some nicely performed jazz/blues soloing. The lead guitar is melodic despite the presence of an 80's and 90's thrash metal passion infused with blues/rock scales. I am sure Minenwerfer have grown up with bands like Blasphemy, Conqueror, Revenge (all Canadian!) and Marduk. However, they have a variety of styles in their music and seem open-minded. The 17 minutes of 'Der Blutharsch' were so interesting that they passed by really fast.

A chilling wind serves as the intro for 'Dragging The Dead Through Mountain Passes'. The song is faster than 'Der Blutharsch' and has a high attack bass. The drumming is fast, but I would love to listen some more passion in this performance (especially on the snare). I assume Minenwerfer try to create a horrifying song here, but for me the most convincing parts of theirs are the mid tempo parts. Their mid tempo parts work best for them. Their fast themes sound chaotic. The Slayer-ish leads with tons of tremolo and feedback only increase the chaos showing though some nice "Hell Awaits" influences. The use of samples continues in this song making it sound like a soundtrack.

'Cloaked In Silence' expanding to almost 13 minutes has a very nice 90's black metal spine melody. The drumming is diverse in this song and sounds tighter in the fast parts. Still it's the slow/melodic themes that make me headbang. Minenwerfer created a Northern Black Metal song here. The riff is diverse and the vocals sound exactly as they should. The mid tempo themes of the song have a nice groove. The lead guitar is also very emotional. I think the rock/blues leads suit better Minenwerfer's style than Slayer influenced ones. In 'Cloaked In Silence' the band did nice and technical work with the lead. It made me turn up the volume to enjoy it better! Narrations used mix well with the band's performance and the black metal high pitched throat vocals. The goth/operatic vocals in the end of the song come surprisingly revealing another face of the band which resides closer to the old Pagan European tradition and spirit. The guitar harmonies in the end of the song accompanied with improvising drums end the song in a fantastic way!

'Kaiserjagerlied' starts off with an old vocal song of what sounds like German soldiers. The guitar melodic line has big depth and ambience. Background synths do a nice job. The vocals are grim and melancholic at the same time. The excellent acoustic guitar in the middle of the song sounds a bit neo-folk especially when supported with a synth flute like sound. The black metal vocals over this part bring to mind bands like Goatmoon. The acoustic lead and guitar phrases are excellent and add to the color of the song. 'Kaiserjagerlied' is another standout track for me. Choir vocals and a power metal riff offer another face of Minenwerfer showing they are a really crafted band with good ideas and nice songwriting. Their drone/post guitar work dives the song to the deepest abyss encrowning it with choir clean vocals.

'Tiroler Edelweiss' fragile melody, acoustic guitars and choir clean vocals place it in the neo-folk genre. Excellent slide effect guitar make an anthem to old Europe. It is weird since they are Americans how good Minenwerfer are in treating with respect the European folk tradition. Definitely a jewel-song with nice musicianship and sweet melodies all over. The narrative/spoken word also suits perfect.

'Withered Tombs' military/marching drums with fuzzy/distorted guitar are the background for a simple but bonecrushing guitar melody. The next riff sounds a bit chaotic with the fast drums and long/distorted vocals. The motif with the Slayer-ish lead guitars returns and makes me think again that these parts needed some more work in the mix. The steady groove of the next riff is very nice and has a strong black/thrash attitude. 'Withered Tombs' ends in chaos but maybe that's what Minenwerfer wanted after all, to create the bombing surroundings of WWI. And they did it!

Minenwerfer combine the rawness of old school black metal with war thematology and synth use. They create melodic soundscapes with their guitar and synth themes and soundtrack soundscapes with military/German speeches. Their strength is in the mid tempo and slow parts where they create either acoustic or post-black metal diamonds. Their weakness is at the fast parts where they sound a bit chaotic. They are fond of World War I (aka "the Great War" or "the Seminal Catastrophe", 28 July 1914 - 11 November 1918) and they borrow from it the biggest part of their thematology. The band was founded in 2007 and, remaining away from "commercial" and "polished" black metal, "Alpenpasse" is their 3rd full length.


1. Der Blutharsch
2. Dragging The Dead Through Mountain Passes
3. Cloaked In Silence
4. Kaiserjägerlied
5. Tiroler Edelweiss
6. Withered Tombs