'Even though I was unfamiliar with Todtgelichter, I'm a fan of avant-garde German black metal like Secrets of the Moon and most of Aural Music/Code 666’s releases, so Angst was a blind review sign-up for me, and it was well worth it.
Angst clocks in at 54 minutes and 8 songs, with 1 being an outro. And take one look at that cover artwork and the band's press shots, and you'll know that you aren’t in for your typical church-burning, spikes-and-corpse-paint black metal affair, but a far more intellectual and progressive take on the genre. Angst certainly fulfills that promise as a rangy, experimental and forward-thinking album.
Apparently Todtgelichter was a more straight-forward black metal outfit earlier in their three-album discography, and strains of that litter the album, as fans of regular black metal will be pleased to hear there are plenty of brittle, frosty blasts scattered throughout the album. But for the most part, this is an album that’s directed at the more open-minded black metal fan who enjoys the challenging array of black metal like In the Woods, Enslaved, Altar of Plagues, Cobalt, Amesoeurs, Sorgeldom, Alcest and, dare I say, Agalloch. And with some female vocals and blues/jazzy bass runs liberally sprinkled throughout, Fleurety came to mind numerous times.
Opener “Café of Lost Dreams” is a perfect precedent setter, with a stuttering proggy opening riff and female vocals. However, purists will delight in the subsequent black metal explosions that occur at the 2:16 and 3:15 mark, it shows the band can bare its teeth, but the jangly subtexts keep things progressive and adventurous. And that duality continues for much of the album, as the band balances between haughty progression, sneakily feral black metal, angst-filled wails and a despondent sense of moody introspection. Angst is not stuffy, wandering in the woods, misty forests and gray palettes, but a more colorful and varied array of textures, as if Opeth or Edge of Sanity played depressive black metal.
Of course, the long songs are not for the impatient, but the payoff is well worth it, as you aurally wade through the encompassing builds and atmospherics to be often blindsided by shards of blackened spite. The nine-minute “Oblivion” is another perfect example, which takes its sweet time to lurch and sputter into any sort of rhythm, bordering on pretentious prog rock, but when it does peak with an Ulver Bergtatt-like swathe of clean vocals and melodic blasting, it’s fucking righteous, if short-lived. The album's shortest track “Phobos & Deimos” gets to it much quicker, though, with the record's most intense moments a mere two minutes in, and it’s a doozy. The most relaxing track on Angst, “Neon”, returns to a more amicable gait with sultry, gravelly female vocals and a gorgeous bridge at 4:40. The most ‘meh’ track on hand, “Subway”, has a melodic death metal structure and chorus before the last ‘real’ track, “Moloch”, and its shimmery, slithery discordance and svelte croons signal the album's gradual wind-down.
“Allmählich” closes the album out appropriately and despondently, saying farewell to the crisp production, engaging songwriting, emotive vocals and altogether relatively un-black metal presence that Todtgelichter has crafted.'