After a demo and a split with Dakhma, this is the very first album by Swiss Ungfell. At first listen I was somehow deterred by the thin and low-fi recording. But don’t judge this record by its sound! Musically “Tôtbringære” offers some fine black metal with medieval / folk influences and a very own touch. Frankly, it makes me somehow nostalgic and reminds me of some releases by deceased Last Episode Records. But I won’t go into comparisons. Ungfell speak for themselves.
Where the production spares many details and power, the music on “Tôtbringære” fixes all deficits. Those guitars are simply outstanding. Each song offers very catching melodies, often even polyphon played. And next to the typical, old school black metal, there are many surprising twists. Like “Gottes Acker” or “Wechselbalg” that suddenly interweave some obscure and spooky boogy woogy. Or “Trommler Tod” that incorporates even a psychobilly-eske solo.
And as mentioned before, there are many influences from folk and medieval music on “Tôtbringære” as well. Starting with the prototype medieval introduction “Viures Brunst”, most songs have some special ingredients that are used goal-oriented. Ungfell does not use those elements to end in itself. Starting with the haunting pipes in “Die Bleiche Göttin” to the more subtile accordions in “Gottes Acker” or “Der Opfersprung” to the sudden turn into a fully medieval part at the ending of “Trommler Tod”.
This is one of the seldom moments where even some clean vocals find their way into the music. There is another short passage in “Gottes Acker” as well. But same as for the medieval / folk elements: Ungfell uses all those special elements wisely as a skillful ingredient to a song.
This combination of grimm and raw black metal with a lot of playful elements makes “Tôtbringære” an outstanding debut. Every song has awesome melodies and exciting turns. Nevermind if a track starts more rocking like “Trommler Tod”, stomping in mid-tempo as “Gottes Acker” or furious blazing. There are many surprising turns into a totally other direction, still maintaining the coherent flow of each number.
In the end, I cannot say which of these six songs (introduction and interlude “Slahtære” exkluded) is my favourite. Maybe the obscure and baneful “Wechselbalg”. But on each play of this record I have another track that catches me and has its outstanding moments.