Well, wasn't this serendipitous; two days before this release I was listening to "Exercises in Futility" thinking "it's been a while since M. and Darkside have released anything, something must appear soon", and lo, a new Kriegsmaschine album!
It's almost funny to think now that once upon a time Kriegsmaschine was the main outlet of the Polish dynamic duo. Now with Mgła recognized to such a large degree and receiving worldwide acclaim, the tables have turned and Kriegsmaschine is now the lesser-known side-project.
Where Mgła has existed as a band that has crystallized the essence of black metal and venerates its origins whilst putting their own spin on it, Kriegsmaschine is the project that has strived to be at the frontier of black metal. Their last release proved that despite the group having equal focus on both bands, neither project suffers because of it, Kriegsmaschine is a law unto itself and is capable of creating music that is on par with Mgla.
"Apocalytpicists" is a continuation and development of the band since their last release "Enemy of Man", it is an exploration into how black metal looks in the modern age when viewed through the legacy of bands like Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord. "Apocalypticists" came out of nowhere, with no fanfare, and is startling in its approach and execution.
Musically the newest Kriegsmaschine album feels wholly separate from Mgła, whilst there are a few passages that echo their more well-known project, they are few and far between. The guitar riffs are warped atonal passages, with dissonant notes ringing out above more 'traditional' black metal sections. Perhaps the biggest and most astonishing feat is the drum work, Darkside has long since shown he's got great skill behind the kit, but "Apocalypticists" is his most accomplished yet; they're primal and inventive, adding to a superb atmosphere throughout the record. M.'s vocals, high in the mix cut through the songs like a brutal siren, at times interspersed with guest vocals from longtime collaborator Mikko Aspa.
2018 has been incredibly strong so far for black metal, and it looks like as the rest of the year unfurls there's still competition for the 'best release of the year' (Svartidauði and Ævangelist are definitely ones to look forward to), whether Kriegsmaschine will be able to claim that title remains to be seen, whatever happens, "Apocalypticists" is without a doubt one of the best and most compelling records so far this year, and Kriegsmaschine's best work to date.
Reviewed by Dan Thaumitan