German (Thuringian) one man power house, Mosaic return with the brand new album, Heimatspuk, due for release on the 22nd of April via Eisenwald.
Returning now to their black metal roots after the excellent experimental and Avant Garde debut release, Secret Ambrosian Fire, the Thuringian folklorist, Mosaic look to deliver a more primal release. One that combines atmospheric metal, mystical soundscapes and traditional primal folk elements. The story of Secret Ambrosian Fire still remains though as we move into the next chapter where the modern world lies in ruins and has consumed itself. A feat that demands a harsher sound. Lyrically, it is permeated by various leitmotifs, such as darkness, sanguine and forest mysticism – as well as the central elements of earth and air – whose attributes and symbolism characterise the album.
Once again it is about old Thuringian traditions, poetry and customs; about ghosts and demons; about the devil; and about the simple man who must not lose himself in the wild world. Likewise, it is about the power of nature as the ultimate shelter; about winter customs and ghostly witches. In addition, the album is strongly inspired by the works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Georg Heym, Georg Trakl and many other regional Thuringian poets. Dark primal folk melodies, sung in the regional dialect, lead up to wild atmospheric black metal anthems.
Unlike previous Mosaic releases, there are no guest appearances on this album. The album was written and recorded entirely by Martin van Valkenstijn at his House of Inkantation in Gotha, with musical assistance from Danijel Zambo (Walden, Skognatt) and mastered by Markus Stock (Empyrium, Sun of the Sleepless) at Klangschmiede Studio E in Mellrichstadt. The masterfully designed front cover was created by Austrian artist Irrwisch, further illustrations were done by Urzeitkraft Illustrationen.
With 10 tracks and over 56 minutes of music to enjoy, there is plenty of bang for your buck and the journey sets off with the opening track on Heimatspuk, Wir sind Geister. The eclectic stylings of Mosaic are instantly upon us as an old time orchestral piece plays out leading into folk singing in an intriguing dialect. The bass leads a steady rhythm before sudden bursts of screaming lead guitars permeate the atmosphere. It’s a wonderfully exciting start. The folk singing is mesmerising and the little bursts of guitars, and occasional switches in vocal styles, breaks the chill out vibe up just enough to make sure you stay on the edge of your seat. Die alte Straße then takes the smooth and chilled vibe up to another level.
Sounds of nature sit in the background while a luscious guitar melody plays out over the top. The clean and passionate vocals are hypnotic and combine with the atmospherics and melodies to make you feel genuinely emotional. It transitions into a song where the atmospherics back off a little and the vocals take on a rich and deep tone. Stunning, hypnotic and magical are terms that don’t do this track justice.
Teufelsberg sees Mosaic take the opportunity to shake you from your blissful state with a much more traditional sounding black metal song. A maniacal scream leads the track into an assault of blistering drums and a bassy riff. Shouted vocals and screaming leads join the attack in a wonderful medley of metal. As is Mosaic’s talent, the song does switch up occasionally with a more cleanly sung folk passage being backed by a headbanger of a rhythm before returning to the all out incendiary metal through to the end.
At just three tracks in, the range on Heimatspuk is phenomenal so far.
Hullefraansnacht is next up to impress and sees us return to a more chilled out track but with a haunted edge, particularly coming through from the layered and whispered vocals. The melody seeps melancholy over the track that somehow manages to feel quite terrifying, even within it’s gentler approach. Haunting, natural and intense, Mosaic really do know how to get under your skin. Blutnelke sees another switch in style, with an almost hard rock intro that transforms into a post black metal beast of a track for a bit before transforming again into a raw, traditional black metal attack. The vocals mix up between haunted cleans and snarling cleans, the drums transition through phases from steady rhythms to blasting attacks. For me though, on this, the lead guitars blow me away. The haunting post melodies nearer the start and the fiery blazing leads that the song demands are just perfect.
Der Köhlerknecht goes hard on the folk and traditional instrumentation at the start with haunting ringing clangs and whispered chant like vocals mixing with yelps and yells. It feels a bit like an interlude, ending with 30 seconds of traditional singing of what sounds like a national anthem from the passed. It probably isn’t, just sounds like it. And it sets the scene nicely though for you to be shaken back to life in the following track, Nordwaldrauch. Deep, rumbling riffs shake you to your core as the drums unload on you. A tempo change sees the lead guitars join in with real impact. The drums pick up the pace, now turning and transforming into a ripper of a song that is viciously heavy yet somehow melancholic still due to that impassioned lead guitar line.
The vocals are impressive again, as are all instruments but it is hard to see passed the absolutely stunning lead guitar which just outshines everything in the first half of the song. This is a brilliant piece of art, managing to combine vicious heaviness with emotion and beauty. Mosaic are absolutely killing it on Heimatspuk.
Heimatspuk has been absolute perfection so far and that just continues next with possibly my favourite track so far in Heilstatt. This is my perfection – the best of everything rolled into a single epic. Blending darkness with beauty, the riffs are perfect, occasionally pounding you into submission before laying off and hitting you with gentler twisting and soothing melodies. The multi layered vocals work wonderfully and the drums are intense at times, subtle at others. Every single note, every minute sound is perfectly placed and meticulously crafted to create an anthem that should be worshipped and respected globally. Changes into heavier parts have so much impact because of the intelligent build ups. In the same way transitions back into softer sections work so much better because of the carefully crafted impacted of the heavier parts. This is musical mastery on show.
I am a bit shell shocked and lost for words but we move on, for now. I am getting back to Heillstatt soon. Unterhulz Zoubar keeps the bar set at impossible heights with a ripping and rumbling track full of energy and pace yet more on the folk side than the black metal side. It rips along speedily, infectious and catchy and demands you move with it. The whole song darkens with a few minutes left as the pace drops off and the vocals turn into a more gnarled style with lead guitars joining in. It really blackens the track for a bit, so much so that even when the pace jumps back up to the style from the start, it feels darker and more threatening.
Technically that was the last song, proper, but there is also a bonus track called Tief verschneit die ganze Welt. Like this album isn’t giving so much already, here, have a bonus. Mosaic are generous on Heimatspuk hitting most bands album length 3 tracks ago. In a way, the bonus track is important though as it allows you to centre yourself before returning back to normality. Or, as is more likely the case, aback to start the album all over again. A 6 minute long, instrumental/outro that is predominantly atmospherics and folk sounds that feels intensely natural and real managing to feel majestic and indulgent.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows Mosaic’s work that the man is an immense talent but here on Heimatspuk, I feel like a new bar has been set. Not just for Mosaic but for music in general. Heimatspuk is a work of art, a perfectly crafted piece that will be dug up in thousands of years and see Mosaic heralded as masters of this generation. Music that should be used educationally for other artists as to how to embody life, love and emotion into their own music. I adore this. I do not know enough words to say how much or how wonderful this is (and anyone who reads my overly lengthy reviews knows I like a lot of words).
Dark, heavy, stunning, gorgeous, passionate and impactful, this could well be the greatest album you hear this year. Just make sure you do, it deserves your attention and inevitable praise.
Heimatspuk is out on April 22nd – preorder your copy here.
Heimatspuk by Mosaic (Eisenwald)
The Final Score - 10/10