Review: Von Thronstahl – Sacrificare (2007)


artist: Von Thronstahl
release: Sacrificare
format: CD, CD-Box
year of release: 2007
label: Cold Spring
duration: 71:19

detailed info: discogs.com

Sacrificare is the latest album of German Von Thronstahl. I must confess I do not know the band well. The few tracks that I’d heard didn’t impress me, and the right-winged reputation of Josef K. didn’t exactly pull me into further investigating the project. But, to be fair, this also means that I haven’t really researched the band, and when I got this album, I decided to give it a thorough going-over, to see if my initial impression was justified.

What we hear on this record is neofolk with some influences of rock, pop and martial, reminding me strongly of Death in June and, here and there, Laibach (in particular the clearly tongue-in-cheek tracks, like “Dressed in Black Uniforms”). This is immediately the biggest downside of the band, in my opinion; I would have preferred to hear a stronger own sound. To be frank, I’m beginning to tire of all these endless imitations (well done or not) of bands that made this kind of music twenty years ago, when it was still fresh and innovative. However, if you can’t get enough of it, I can say that the musical quality on this album generally ranges from decent to very well done (I’ll get back to this), and that it sounds fine in terms of performance and production. The artwork is also nicely done.

Because this is a rather long CD, I’ll discuss a few tracks that I noticed in particular for some reason. “Molti Piu Onore” is really a quite irritating, yet catchy track, with among other things a strong poppy beat, vague choir, trumpet, vocals, and guitar. “Gloomy White Sunday” is one of the better tracks. Quite atmospheric, but because of the acoustic guitar and metallophone, it’s quite reminiscent of Death in June, something which is also true of “Mother of Mercy (version)”. We hear a very nice guitar melody on “Berg-Einsamkeit”, a calm song that appeals to me. “The Four Horsemen of the Apokalypse” is a fun and catchy track, the melody of which is taken from an older track by Aphrodite’s Child. It’s a bit long for my taste, though, as is “Ganz In Weiss Und Ganz In Eisen”, and again the ‘guitar ‘n’ bells’ sound in the former track remind too much of Death in June. Furthermore, I don’t think Josef K.’s vocals are consistent everywhere. They fit a track like “Gloomy White Sunday”, but they irritate me in something like “Undefinierbare Sehnsucht”, but this is more a matter of taste.

Well, I suppose it must be clear what my main point of criticism is… A few nice tracks, but never really original. If this doesn’t bother you, and you can’t get enough of neofolk in the vein of Death in June, there’s nothing wrong with buying this album. However, if you are, like me, more interested in hearing innovation in the already saturated neofolk scene, you’d better let this one pass by.

Reviewed by D.M.K.

Tracklist:

1. The Age Of Decay And Democrazy (5:17)
2. Molti Piu Onore (4:24)
3. Gloomy White Sunday (6:39)
4. Occidental Identity (5:22)
5. Ganz In Weiss Und Ganz In Eisen (8:03)
6. Dressed In Black Uniforms (4:24)
7. Mother of Mercy (Version) (4:23)
8. Dumnezeu Exista / God Exists (1:24)
9. Sacrificare (4:18)
10. Palästina (HEP Version) (3:33)
11. Undefinierbare Sehnsucht (4:49)
12. Berg-Einsamkeit (4:47)
13. The Four Horsemen Of The Apokalypse (7:11)
14. Gloomy White Sunday (Version) (6:45)