Band: Linus Klausenitzer
Label: AOP Records
Genre: Death metal
Release Date: October 6th, 2023
For Fans Of: Alkaloid, Obscura, Hannes Grossmann
Linus Klausenitzer has built up an impressive resume. Between Alkaloid, Obscura, Eternity’s End, and Obsidious, he’s appeared on some of the best metal releases of the past decade. Tulpa is Klausentizer’s first foray into solo music under his own name, and on this release he takes center stage.
Tulpa doesn’t share the same vicious DNA as most death metal bands, nor the same soaring, epic nature of Eternity’s End. While this remains within the bounds of death metal, the focus is closer to the technicality and song structure than aggression or brutality. This is music that happens to use death metal to convey its ideas, rather than music that makes death metal an indelible part of its existence. Klausenitzer is listed as the only band member, but some guest musicians seem to play throughout the entire record, such as Hannes Grossmann on drums, who is apparently contractually obligated to appear on every death metal album ever.
The production on Tulpa largely lands. All instruments are clear and easy to hear. Klausenitzer’s history as a bass player becomes immediately obvious the moment you turn the record on. The bass is distinct and a prominent part of the album’s harmonies. Above everything else, I am just happy to have a bass player that is actually audible and paid attention to. Tulpa also seems to ignore the loudness wars entirely, instead allowing the dynamics of the songs to flourish. I do wish that the vocals had been processed differently.
Throughout Tulpa, Klausenitzer gives damn good performances on every instrument except vocals, and so does every one of the many guests. Philippe Tougas’s guitar solo that starts just after the 1:45 mark in “Axiom Architect” especially sounds refreshingly flashy and intricate for a death metal band. The complexity of the songs themselves seems to be intentionally dialed back to let the musicians absolutely rip apart the tracks however they want to. This approach leads to some fantastic, joyous moments.
Apparently, Klausenitzer intended to make this music “accessible and approachable.” He did at least partially succeed. In addition to this songwriting approach leading to more successful musician showcases and solos, the music on Tulpa never really goes wild. The listener hears righteous riffs, catchy choruses, and then the song folds for the next song to begin. As stated, this buoys up the performances, but it also leaves the songwriting exposed. This record will live and die depending on how much you like the riffs and the larger song structures.
Tulpa falls into the uncanny valley of death metal due to those structures. The chord progressions sounds ripped from another genre and spliced into death metal at times. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s generally interesting. I haven’t sunk in the sheer number of hours necessary to explain why these don’t sound like death metal progressions to me, but at a gut level Klausenitzer is playing with some interesting concepts.
At best the songwriting on Tulpa sounds like a blending of two writers, both twisting into one another to create something new and refreshing. At worst it sounds like the feeling you get when you need to sneeze but the feeling just dwindles into nothing. When the death metal stylings, the production, and the song structure all work towards the same goal, the album really hums. When they don’t, Tulpa starts to drag.
And too often Tulpa drags. When I said earlier that the “accessible and approachable” approach left the songwriting exposed, I meant that in between excellent solos and coalescing harmonies in the bass and guitar, in between all the excellent little transitions and tempo changes, you get some very precarious scotch tape holding all of these moments together. Every moment on Tulpa sounds nice. But too many sound forgettable. The moments that aren’t forgettable, such as the whispering in “The Devil’s Tongue”, can sound more out of place than worth engaging in.
Ultimately Tulpa lacks the magnetism and energy to capitalize on its strengths. However, these strengths still exist. The performances, both from Linus Klausenitzer and the various accomplished guests, make this record worth checking out even if the full product doesn’t really click. I recommend this to anyone who has ever complained about a bad guitar solo or unlistenable bass in a metal album before. With a group of musicians this talented, Linus Klausenitzer will leave you satisfied despite some flaws.
- King Of Hearts
- Axiom Architect
- Our Soul Sets Sail
- Sword Swallower
- Sister in Black
- The Devil’s Tongue
- Queen of Hearts
- Dig Deeper
- Lunar Assailant
Total Playing Time: 52:13