[21st October 2013]
03. The Stain Of Past Regrets
05. Memorial Address
06. An End
07. Beneath The Cliffs
08. Blue As The Sky, Powerful As The Waves
09. How Can I?
10. I Can See It In The Stars
11. It`s Over
12. Withering In Hell
13. Ghost Tree pt3
Germ is a project from the ultra-creative mind of Australian Tim Yatras, also known as Sorrow, the man behind such masterpiece bands such as depressive black metal extraordinaires Austere - whose 2009 album To Lay Like Old Ashes set the benchmark for depressive black metal – and depressive rock outfit Grey Waters. Additionally, he was in Woods Of Desolation for their landmark 2011 album Torn Beyond Reason, and earlier this year, Yatras did guest vocals for depressive black metal band Thy Light’s newest release. He is a busy man, and he found time this year to release another Germ album – the second full length overall – titled Grief.
Tim Yatras is the sole member in Germ, which presents a depressive rock/black metal meld enhanced by electronic elements. Mainly a drummer by trade, Tim nonetheless possesses an uncanny creative mind for melancholy music, as well as much talent with other instruments, and that fact is readily apparent on Grief. The sound is similar to that of Austere, but where Austere ultimately felt uplifting in a way, Germ seems to make use of darker themes at times. Additionally, the material isn’t as black metal oriented, though that aesthetic is certainly a base for what he does.
The tone of the music evokes an utterly beautiful melancholy. The keyboards provide a background for the moody guitar chords to blend with, oftentimes building a wall of sound that resonates with grief both new and old. The waves of utter woe that emanate from the music is enough to drive anyone with half a heart to tears.
In terms of vocals, Tim has one of the most distinctive screams in all of music. His is a raw howl of pure anguish that sends chills down the spine. That is definitely not his only dimension though, which becomes apparent in the haunting chorus line of “The Stain of Past Regrets”. His clean voice also takes centre stage on the song “How Can I?” which is ballad of pure raw desperate emotion. It also needs to be mentioned that Audrey Sylvain provided guest vocals for two songs, “Butterfly” and “Blue As the Sky, Powerful As the Waves”, both of which are amazing songs, and she sounds divine on them. The latter song is especially fantastic, and has the potential to be one of the best songs of the year.
That same song is possibly one of the best the record has to offer. In addition to displaying Tim’s varied vocals, it also has an absolutely transcendent guitar solo, and wonderfully arranged keyboards – a trait in which it is joined by “Memorial Address”. The beautiful chords that make themselves heard in the final minutes of the track are like no other, adding a truly lovely flavour to the mid-paced guitar and drum work.
Aside from the full tracks, there are a couple shorter interlude-like songs on the album that are almost entirely electronic in nature. They retain the otherworldly aspects of the album, but shun guitars entirely, focusing on voice samples and wistful keyboard lines. While by themselves they probably wouldn’t be all that good, they work very well in the context of the album giving an ebb and flow feel to the gentle tides of sorrow.
Tim’s talent as a drummer is superbly manifested throughout the release, but he has the added advantage of knowing how to write songs, and as such, the drums are not overstated, but instead provide a perfect floor for the rest of the music to do its melancholy dance on.
Grief was produced by Tim himself, and good lord the production is fantastic. Everything is in perfect balance with each other; the vocals are panned to the back of the mix and reverbed a bit, which is the perfect placement for them, and the music sounds deep, rich, and organic. To bring up the atmosphere again, the mix on this album does an amazing job of wringing every last drop of lamentation to be had in the arrangements.
Germ’s Grief, the second full length album from the band and the third release in two years, is an absolute masterpiece. Tim Yatras has honed his craft for years now, and this might just be one of his finest works to date. The atmosphere is stunning, complemented by jaw-dropping production, and the music is some of the finest of this nature ever put to record. The guitars, drums, and bass are well written enough, but the addition of the gorgeous keyboards as well as Tim’s unique screams are what truly puts it over the top in terms of quality. Emotionally evocative, dredging up nostalgic and sorrowful memories from the corners of your mind, Grief is highly recommended for anyone, and it will certainly be in consideration for album of the year.
Top songs: “The Stain of Past Regrets” “Blue As The Sky, Powerful As the Waves” “Withering In Hell” “Butterfly”