Agrypnie – Grenzgænger/Pavor Nocturnus Review

Band: Agrypnie
Album: Grenzgænger / Pavor Nocturnus
Label: Supreme Chaos Records
Genre: Post-Black Metal
Country: Germany
Release Date: October 12, 2018

Post-Black has always had a strong place in my heart. There are some bands that have made some incredibly dense, imaginative soundscapes, capturing pure emotion in sonic form, and making some of the some creative music I can imagine. Such bands as Thy Catafalque, Alcest, Harakiri for the Sky and Kres come to mind as excellent examples. So naturally, I tend to have high hopes when approaching a new Post-back metal act. While Agrypnie certainly has great moments, there are just too many weak moments for me to be able to list them amongst these wonderful bands.Grenzgænger/Pavor Nocturnus is a split release, the first half being a full length original release,  the second half being a compilation of songs from a previous split (‘Veritas Mutabilis’,‘Pavor Nocturnus’, and ‘Agrypnie’) 5 orchestral songs (‘Sinnflut’, Augenblick’, ’16[485] -Brücke aus Glas’, ‘Fenster zum Hof’, and ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’) and one new song. Clocking in at 2 hours and 22 minutes, it’s a LONG release. In fact this brings up my first criticism, it’s much too long. I had difficulty keeping my attention up throughout the album. While I don’t dislike long tracks and can really get into an epic, 11 minute track. I think Agrypnie took things to an extreme on this release in terms of length.

I’m going to mostly focus on the full length half; ‘Grenzgænger’ for this review.

In terms of musical style, Agrypnie is definitely in line with the likes of Harakiri for the Sky. There are great melodic, clean passages that can be found throughout the album. ‘In die Tief’ ‘Nychtemeron’ and ‘die Waisen des Diadalos’ were some of my favourite examples of such songs. Throughout these tracks you can find an abundance of clean, atmospheric breaks that are really reminiscent of a ‘Harakiri for the Sky’ song.

Beyond the dreamy Post influenced passages, there’s always one foot in the traditional, and melodic black metal style. I would consider this to be one of Agrypnies strengths. Grenzgænger is littered with really great riffs that remind me of something one might hear on a Dissection album. They can really get you banging your head and excited while retaining groove and melody that suits the music. Some notable tracks in regards to this would be ‘Die Langste Nacht’, and ‘Zu Grabe’.

There are definitely a few weaknesses that threw me off of the release though. The first and foremost being that I’m not the biggest fan of the vocals. They just don’t seem to fit in with the rest of the music, at points they sound great, but something makes them feel weak and like they’re on top of the music rather than part of it. This is likely to have been more so an issue from the mixing stage.

My other issue with the album is going back to the overall length, and the tendency for parts to drag. The main culprit of this issue is the first song, ‘Auferstehung’. I felt it to be by far the weakest point of the record. There are parts that drag, with none of the riffs or post-ambient sections that are strong points on the rest of the album. I felt bored within the first few minutes, like I was listening to yet another second-wave black metal worship album. Being the first track on the album, it tends to put a bad taste in the listeners mouth.

Moving on to the second half of the release; ‘Pavor Nocturnus’. This is what drove my rating for the album down. There isn’t anything especially interesting on this half of the release. Most of the symphonic songs didn’t have much in them to keep my attention. To be blunt, the overall composition of these songs seemed to me somewhat nonsensical. There are long passages that build, very much in the romantic stylings of composers such Wagner or Bruckner, only to grow into a completely different musical idea that throw off the feel or flow of the pieces. these last 4 tracks are very much an attempt at making romantic era style symphonic music, but done so in a contemporary state of mind.

There are only 2 real points of interest on this half of the release that actually grabbed my attention. the first being the song, ‘Neon’, which stood out from the rest as it was much softer than any other song, and had a female vocal lead. the second being the 3 songs more so in the post-black metal stylings from Grenzgænger. But yet again, these 3 songs don’t bring anything especially interesting to the board.

To bring this all to a final verdict, I can sum this album up by saying it’s very hit and miss. There are some great riffs for black metal fans who want something that will get the blood pumping. And ethereal melodies scattered throughout many of the songs. On the other hand, there are weak vocals that don’t seem to fit into the music, dragging arrangements of midi symphonies, and second wave black metal riffs that sound entirely uninspired, constitute the misses that litter the album. That all being said, there are some great moments on the album as a stand alone, ‘Grenzgænger’ is a solid album. For any fans of black metal that are curious about jumping into post-black I’d recommend giving ‘Grenzgænger’ a listen.

Rating: 6.5/10

1. Auferstehung
2. In die Tiefe
3. Aus Zeit erhebt sich Ewigkeit
4. Nychthemeron
5. Grenzgænger
6. Die Waisen des Daidolos
7. Die Längste Nacht
8. Zu Grabe
9. Veritas Mutabilis
10. Pavor Nocturnus
11. Agrypnie
12. Neon
13. Sinnflut
14. Augenblick
15. 16[485] -Brücke aus Glas
16. Fenster zum Hof
17. Cogito Ergo Sum

Total Playing Time: 

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