Porta Nigra – Schöpfungswut

“Schöpfungswut” is a compound of the german words for creation and fury and describes a state of agitated creating. In the context of Porta Nigra‘s latest album by the same name, the word gains another connotation for mankind’s defiance of god. Of man’s contempt for his creator and subsequent fall into sin. Knowledge frees us but it also makes us sinful. In the wake of our attainment of knowledge a life of strife awaits as we seek to reconcile with our impetuous nature.

Decadent german art

But perhaps we should start from the beginning. Schöpfungswut is the title of the third album by german duo Porta Nigra. It marks a departure in their sound from the avantgarde and martial dark metal of predecessor Kaiserschnitt to a more traditional brand of black metal. Tongue of Chaos Invocation joins the band on vocals to complete the new formula.

Porta Nigra describe their sound as decadent dark metal and decadence prominently featured in their previous works. Albums like Fin de siècle and Kaiserschnitt explored our sinful human nature nestled into the context of the early 20th century.

Schöpfungswut takes a grander and more monumental approach. In a tightknit web of mythological references the band examines the fall of man and our life of struggle under the yoke of both the numenous and our nature. Despite the wider scope, themes of decadence and the Fin de siècle remain central with Das Rad des Ixion and Die Kosmiker. The latter of which exemplifies the essence of Schöpfungswut with exhilarating guitar melodies and relentlessly blasting drums as Tongue passionately proclaims the deicide.

A return to the roots

Musically, Schöpfungswut is rooted in the primal black metal of the 90s but expecting lo-fi sound and icy atmospheres would be misguided. The songwriting is straightforward but Markus Stock’s (Bethlehem, Schammasch, i.a.) production job is of high quality. Whereas previous albums were more diverse and daring, Schöpfungswut is highly focussed. The album concentrates on a cinematic style of black metal with epic scope and furious pace. Fiery guitars provide the melodic accompaniment to the diverse vocal delivery, crafting an evocative sound. Creative drum fills, subtle synths and ardent guitar solos further enrich the tonal palette. Unfortunately some of the finer details can be hard to make out in the busy mix.

The most stunning example of Porta Nigra’s skill is the centerpiece of the album, Die Entweihung von Freya. The feverish and dramatic instrumentation simultaneously mirrors and contrasts the lyrics about ignorant and voracious mankind. With a sad whimper the gut-wrenching climax of the track begins. Disaster has been spelled and goes without resolution as the song ends in tragedy.

Merely Unser Weg nach Elysium can offer solace as reconcilation has finally been achieved. But it also stretches the limits of repetition with a runtime that matches the rest of the album despite the content being less substantial.

Schöpfungswut is a cinematic black metal epic that unites the genre’s virtues with the progressive developments of recent years. For black metal it’s an exemplary vision that reminds us what the genre is capable of. For Porta Nigra it’s a successful step into a new direction that will hopefully reap the attention it deserves. Though the avantgarde has faded from their music, Porta Nigra’s new sound convinces with its versatility. Ever captivating, effortlessly moving from the exciting to the dramatic and back again. A satisfying and memorable start to 2020 as another year in one of the best times for metal.

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