Vinterriket is the ambient project of Christoph Ziegler, who also plays keyboards in the black metal band Nocternity. His background in metal, as compared to industrial ambient composers like Jouni Havukainen of In Slaughter Natives, leads to an approach less focused on drones and studio effects and more interested in actual melody; most of the compositions on this CD are built around two or three layers of synthesizer progressions. This is actually a retrospective of Ziegler's earliest work as Vinterriket, and understandably doesn't always show the complexity of his more recent offerings. Several tracks seem to rely on fairly simple keyboard presets, with the generic rhythm program on "Das Fahle Licht" and commonplace thunderstorm samples of "Visionen Einer Ewigkeit" being particularly egregious. When Ziegler gets it right, though, the results are dramatic and picturesque. "Nachtfrost" displays an unusually subtle use of orchestral effects, for example, while "Morgengrauen (Einklang)" lays understated kettledrums under a series of overlapping low-octave harmonics. The overall effect of Ziegler's synth string and choral pad arrangements is reminiscent of the dark fantasy instrumentals of Glenn Danzig's Black Aria release. A cover of "Der Tod Wuotans" also reveals a strong influence from Burzum's synthesizer albums Balder's Dod and Hlidskjalf, recorded during songwriter Varg Vikernes's prison sentence. This all might be a bit bombastic for fans of more restrained dark ambient, but it would make an excellent accompaniment to those Michael Moorcock novels you've been meaning to read.
Visit Ziegler online at www.vinterriket.com.
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