Released: June, Gravity Entertainment
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
It’s always interesting when a band walks the needle-thin path between geniality and sheer nonsense. There is nothing more boring than sticking to well-defined borders and tried and tested musical formulas. But try to stray too far in the opposite direction, and the result is most likely going to be cacophonous bedlam. One such band braving this double-edged sword is the two-piece Leere, originating from Switzerland. Fully six years after their debut, Leere are back, unleashing there sophomore work on the world. With their name being drawn from the German word for emptiness, it comes as little surprise that their latest release is entitled “Bleak”. And with such a moniker, the album artwork is particularly well chosen, with an empty shack on a mist-shrouded field seemingly epitomising austerity and barrenness.
This is a band that clearly doesn’t mess around, launching straight into the frozen wastelands of “Expanding Isolation”. The vocals remind me greatly of a more manic version of those by bands such as Nebula Disrupt, whilst influences from the Scandinavian second wave of black metal run rampant from the get go. However, with a more atmospheric twist to it, “Bleak” cannot be seen as a mere countless rehash. Acoustic sections weave in a more ethereal feel that softens the frosty bite of older black metal greatly. Nevertheless, the title track is somewhat disappointing: often it seems like the instruments are off doing one thing and the vocals are on their own mission, each with no regard for what the other is doing. However, this is redeemed in “Roots in a Skull”, with the vocals taking on a mad and deranged undertow, countering the blizzard-like storm unleashed by the guitars and drums. With the last song “Empty Infinity” being solely instrumental, the listener is treated to something entirely different: an astral journey that floats through the ether, lasting fully twice as long as the opening track.
All in all, this album is quite literally a blast from the past. The album production is just as course and gritty as one would expect from a band playing tribute to black metal’s golden days. However, on the downside, raw old school black metal has been so heavily stomped out that barely anything original remains, and this is one pitfall “Bleak” has not entirely managed to avoid. Sure, the music is more atmospheric, but part of it seems forced and stilted. Added to this is the disparity between the vocals and the instruments, which at times seem to be divided by an intractable gaping chasm. Nevertheless, the album shows promise, which makes it even more of a pity that this potential wasn’t fully utilised.
Review by Erika Kuenstler