One of the most satisfying 2014-discoveries for undersigned was the roster of Germany’s Castellum Stoufenburc, a label named after the Staufenburg Castle aka Feste Stauf. It’s not a new label, though still very young, but they sort of fill a hiatus I underwent for quite some time. For more than a while, I couldn’t experience great Martial Industrial Art anymore, and the emptiness The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud left (the successor Der Blutharsch couldn’t completely fulfil my hope for focusing on Neo-Folk rather than the unique spheres created by the predecessor) seemed to be everlasting. Until now…
One of the projects on Castellum Stoufenburc is Waffenruhe, one of the outfits of Soldat D. aka D.S., who runs this label. For your information: Soldat D. is involved with Ruhe and Schwarze Heimat too, and with The Final War / Bunkergeist’s sole member O.Kult, he shares Himmelsburg. Besides, he created another label recently (in 2013), called Weltfeind, which focuses on depressive Music only. Watch out for the reviews on Weltfeind’s three releases in the next days / weeks, and more material from Castellum Stoufenburc.
Soldat D. acts for about six years under the Waffenruhe-moniker, but this album, War Rituals, isn’t but the first full length. Very important, and please take notice, is the limitation of this release, so believe me if I say that you need to hurry up etc…
War Rituals comes with very nice artwork / lay-out (via own art-provider Cold Sun Arts; the cover painting leads your thoughts to the glory of our origin, when we were all warriors, when hypocrisy and mono-theism didn’t infect our tribes [tribes = the current society], when mankind didn’t have the time, or intention, to act as foolish as they do now, when Nature was part of our existence [or better: when our existence was still part of Nature] etc…), and it has a total running time of about one hour. It brings so-called ‘Militant Martial Music’ (in the early years the style was labelled as ‘Military Pop’, so don’t ignore the slight yet inherent progression), and besides that correct definition, I think it’s much more than that.
The introduction is called The Ritual Begins…: a whipping yet pretty obscure composition that immediately caresses my pagan heart (or something like that). Esoteric keyboard melodies, archaic drum patterns, additional voices / choirs, and that specific wooden flute-alike (panpipe?) tune, it’s a mostly oppressive yet, at the same time, fearless soundtrack to define inner pride. The Call To The Last Ones starts much more offensive (to be redefined in terms of beauty and glory!), and musically (instrumentally) there are even more layers than the opening hymn. This song also includes vocals, some kind of spoken words (in English). The Return Of Fire & Iron sounds very orchestral once again, and in a way it reminds me a lot to some war march during the glorious days of the mighty Roman Empire. Highly interesting too is the next track, Kämpft (indeed with German lyrics; means ‘battle’ or ‘fight’), which features Jani Hellén (of The Day Of The Antler-fame). Songs like this one minimize the fictive border with the more warlike-oriented side of the Neo-Folk scene, cf. the acoustic guitars (hello Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio!). And I can go on and on with giving an impression about each single track, but I won’t. I think (hope) you have an idea of what War Rituals brings. About each single composition is a highlight, but some are just even more convincing and intriguing than others. I can refer to the classically skilled piano interludes in New Flowers Out Of Cold Ashes; to the integer soberness of Ars Militaris (mixed with quite some Blood Axis-elements); to the splendidly fitting samples in Überwindung Des Alten Durch Sieghafte Kraft (‘the surmounting of the ancient through victorious strength’); to the violin-alike sounds in the energetic composition War-Chant-Ritual (with a specific flute-alike sound that brings Ildfrost’s Natanael to mind); to the almost melodious vocals (sung in German once again) in Wir Werden Ewig Leben (‘we will live forever’); or to any other piece of Aural Art, but it would bring me too far. In general, the main structures are somewhat repetitive, but certainly not of the monotonous kind (!), for coming with all those additional elements. As a matter of fact, all ingredients are of a mostly glorious kind: the bombastic layers of dark-atmospheric and oppressive keyboards and the eccentric synth-picks (cf. the panpipe-alike sound I mentioned, or the Puissance’y neo-experimentation); the fabulous, sometimes even thunderous war drums; the spoken words (though several hymns are instrumental).
The production of the album is grandiose. For the better part, War Rituals is quite bombastic, even orchestral, so it needs a powerful sound. It does. Yet it’s more than that. I think the mix has been taken care of with eye for detail, to make the equilibrium of every single actor reaching perfection. And on top of it, it creates an atmosphere that is not only hymnic and proud, victorious and glorious, yet also intensively obscure, ominous and oppressing.
Anyway, every ‘fan’ of, let’s say, Triangular Ascension, Rukkanor, Puissance / Arditi, Wappenbund, Coph Nia, Legionarii, Triarii or Suveräna (amongst others, evidently), MUST HAVE THIS ALBUM!