Total Negation- “Zeitzeuge”

Total Negation- "Zeitzeuge"

It’s barely been two years since Total Negation’s ambitious dual-EP pairing of Zur späten Stunde | Zeiträume was released on Swedish label Temple of Torturous. What was at its surface an interesting experiment in throwing black metal and krautrock at each other proved to be something far more enduring and human than many would have imagined. The collision of dreamlike textures with violent howls and discordant guitars has led to this album becoming something of a high water mark for experimentation in the community of solo black metal artists, so with the impending release of Zeitzeuge on the 16th of June, hopes are high.

While its predecessor dabbled with melodica and vibraphone as musical segues into otherwise untapped melodic territories for sole member Wiedergaenger, Zeitzeuge is a fully fused and immersed experience, with all experimental and progressive leanings blended into the bleak tapestries of Total Negation’s music. The last album explored the space between dreaming and death, which was fascinating if not almost beautiful, but this album wanders into darker more reflective territories of power and the pain it can bring, ultimately leading to madness. The album’s sound follows suit, starting abruptly melodic and slowly turning towards less forgiving and welcoming grounds as the album wanders to its climactic close.

Total Negation
While preparing this review, many technical difficulties occurred, delaying this post by several weeks. In a way, these setbacks are oddly fitting for an album so inward leaning and brimming with an intangible frustration and sense of anguish. Black metal often feels like something strong, carved from stone or steel, possibly even a triumphant or battle-ready genre, yet Total Negation’s compositions on Zeitzeuge lean towards a spectral and wispy presence. The songs themselves are well rounded and full in production, yet it’s the growing sense of alienation and isolation throughout the album’s course that lead the listener to place it almost outside of one’s sonic periphery. The current of pain runs deep here, yet the progressive leanings of the artist allow each song to explore its depths and meanings instead of being bland landscapes of misery like so many other albums with negative fixations. From the shockingly human vocals to the perfect fusion of black metal and meandering krautrock, this is an experience that refuses to be pigeonholed yet becomes increasingly familiar and poignant with each listen.