Wyrgher - Panspermic Warlords (I, Voidhanger)

Until now, the hooded Swiss shamans in the Helvetic Underground Committee have cast their strongest spells drawing mana from the reliquary past of ancient mythologies (Lykhaeon) and medieval mishaps (Ungfell). Something of a boomerang effect has happened here with Wyrgher, though, insofar as Ungfell’s Menetekel has decided to root his folksy, geomantic black metal (BM) so deep in the sedimentary record, that the worldbuilding he exercised on Es Grauet must contemplate the very origins of interplanetary biology. The premise from which he begins on Panspermic Warlords? That all life in the universe is the product of a single race of imperialistic beings, hell-bent on controlling as much of the cosmos as possible. It's a suitably grimdark creation tale for the twisted minds of the Committee. 

The first impression one gets listening to Panspermic Warlords, and especially its opener, “Dormant They Drift,” is of somewhat paradoxical continuity. There’s no cock-a-doodling rooster or audible milk gulp, but the music has the same ‘attend the tale’ vibe of Es Grauet overture “Es grauet überm dorf”—only this time panning to spacecraft. Maybe it’s the shared existentialism between the two projects; maybe it’s Menetekel’s practice with gothic gloom on his other project, Ateiggär; but he’s remarkably deft weaving synthetic apparitions into bouncy bouts of melody. It feels abrupt the first time that an interstellar ice cream truck sounds its jingle, but through woozy repetition the vibraphonic whimple becomes a kind of lagging heartbeat for a song that paces its listener’s slip into lucid-dream cryosleep. From then onward, not one of Wyrgher’s many alien sound effects feels out of place. Even the entirely ambient “Summoning the Meteoric Titans” makes as good a home for itself here as it would on the soundtrack to Arrival, accompanying wide-panned shots of the looming heptapods' inky oracles.

If anything, the biggest jolts on Panspermic Warlords have more to do with the engineering of its sound than its futuristic concept. It is a bit surprising to hear someone with the Committee’s meloblack bona fides wielding the stretchy guitar tone often utilized by dissodeath darlings on Transcending Obscurity (think Devenial Verdict with less crunch). Then again, you can just as easily hear something of the wonky BM getting released on Total Dissonance Worship in songs like “Destroyer of the Promethean Path” and “The Weeping of a Blazing Rock,” and imagine Menetekel working his head around the recording techniques and pedal effects once confined to proggy death metal. Some of this experiment's success definitely owes to the fact that not even a deoxygenated climate could dampen Menetekel’s trademark bellow and newcomer Voidgaunt’s booming drumwork. But in that respect, despite its transgalactic departure from the Helvetic Underground's typical fare, Panspermic Warlords offers reassurance that the Committee's most accomplished musician still hasn’t lost any of his earthy grit. Menetekel’s comfort in the far reaches of the universe might even make you wonder if any space debris from Wyrgher will find its way onto Ungfell’s next Swiss German fabliaux. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for asteroids.