It is nearly impossible to keep up with everything in the realm of black metal, not to mention all the other genres and kinds of music out there. If you’re trying to be efficient with your time, you obviously can’t listen to everything coming out, especially with all the duds here and there. One group that you should definitely prioritize listening to is Ellende as they put out some of the most elegant music that the genre has to offer.
Ellende caught my eye (or ear) with Todbringer, which was released in 2016. My first playthrough of that record was all that it took to completely sell me on this group. My introduction to Ellende’s pure magic left me feeling like I just returned home from a long day outside in the wintery hellscapes to a warm, comforting bowl of soup (my personal soup of choice is pozole). From that moment on, I knew this group was something truly special. This music, as well as good soup, brings peace to my soul in a way that cannot be accurately explained with words. Well, maybe it can, but I am just saying it that way for dramatic effect…
Since Todbringer, Ellende have released another beauty of a record with Lebensnehmer and are back this year with Triebe. Their newest offering is a brief yet powerful adaptation and reworking of both previous and new material. The way I see it, this record is only a taste of what is to come, as this group has truly come into their own and they most definitely know it. All throughout their musical career, their take on black metal has been and still is unrivaled with how graceful and moving their compositions truly are. You wouldn’t necessarily consider black metal to be an opulent genre by nature, but Ellende make it as such with ease.
Triebe is a brief, melancholic, and blissful musical experience that has me absolutely ecstatic of what is to come from Ellende in the future. Opening with “Triebe II”, this record starts off in the most gorgeous of ways with inviting clean guitar tones, hypnotic cymbal work, and sorrowful piano and violin accompaniments. Serene musical moments that are as melancholic as this set the stage for the pain and suffering that is felt in the blistering moments to come. Not only do we get the ferocious display of anguish in the form of blood-curdling screams and blast beats, but we also get the luscious and soothing instrumental passages that reassure me that everything is going to be okay, as well as everything in between.
The use of additional instruments outside of the traditional black metal instrumental repertoire adds so much more depth and identity to Ellende’s arrangements. The piano, in addition to the violin and cello, only make these songs so much more captivating and emotionally gripping. I could listen to the slow, ambient passage that makes up the bulk of “Weltennacht” all day with how luscious it is. This particular passage slowly builds and builds to the controlled chaos that closes out this behemoth of a track.
Even when Ellende go all out and overwhelm you with their high-speed aural assaults, they know well enough to dial it back just a bit and make those intense moments something special; there really is beauty in the madness here. The outro to “Weltennacht” is stunning with the soaring guitar melodies and chords along with the bouncy drum and bass rhythms. One thing I especially adore about the band is how well their bass tone stands out; that is not something you hear very often in the realm of black metal. This simple detail elevates the depth of the music to a whole another dimension and Ellende capitalize on that.
Ellende’s elegant brand of melancholic, atmospheric black metal is undoubtedly going to be some of the best black metal you’ll hear all year, and yes, I am aware that it is only January. Even for those unfamiliar or not necessarily particular with this subgenre, Triebe, like their other works, brings out the very best that black metal has to offer, all while making it quite accessible at the same time. It is hard to not notice the sheer beauty that Ellende’s music radiates when it is staring you in the face. Let Triebe take you on a mournful journey.