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Dwelling Lifeless (2006)

Sterbend was a German band that featured members of Nyktalgia, held in somewhat high regard in certain circles. They only recorded on full-length album, 2006's Dwelling Lifeless, which was released on No Colours Records. This L.P. was quite popular among the teenage crowd, especially those that liked to slash their bodies up and post the photos online to impress their friends. How something so completely below-average and pathetic ever managed to impress anyone is beyond me, as there is nothing about this album that is even remotely adequate.

The band's music has been labeled as 'depressive black metal', yet this is very misleading. On the contrary, I cannot stop myself from laughing each time that I hear it. There is nothing dark or mournful about this, whatsoever. The saddest thing about this is that they got away with, blatantly, ripping off Burzum riffs and claiming them as their own. “Depressing Paths through Fullmoon Forests”, for example, makes poor use of guitar melodies that were originally found on “Det Som En Gang Var”, from Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. Sterbend was, supposedly, formed in 2000 and yet somehow took six years to record their debut album. This seems very pitiful, considering the fact that the songwriting is totally unoriginal. It is obvious that melancholic black metal is best left to the French, as they manage to do it properly, in many cases. This horrible record is an insult to all those through whose veins course German blood. The wretched material is not even the worst aspect of the album. The vocals are so cringe-worthy that one almost feels embarrassed for the poor loser. So many people have attempted to imitate the vocal style utilized by Varg Vikernes on the early Burzum albums, and yet none have failed in such a horrific manner. There is nothing tortured or anguished about Typhon's voice; instead, he sounds like a little girl that has been sent to bed without dessert. I am not sure what he thought he was doing, but he utterly failed at creating any sense of despair with his feminine shrieks. In the case of Varg, or Landfermann of Bethlehem, one can really feel the terrible grief and misery in their voices. Typhon was unable to emulate this, at all, so he just employed a weak, high-pitched squeal. The only depressing thing about this is that so many people accepted this and even praised it.

As for the production, it is rather standard for an underground release, though still much more polished than the sort of albums that it is trying to rip off. The vocals are too loud, though more due to the atrocious style than anything else. The guitar tone has no feeling to it, almost coming off more like a death metal album in that regard. There is nothing cold or desolate, here. The drumming is too high and clear, the same sort of rotten mistake made my poser bands like Nargaroth. It possesses all of the characteristics of an album that is trying to be more underground than it really is and failing in the process.

Simply put, Dwelling Lifeless is a piece of trash. Even if you consider yourself to be a fan of depressive black metal, avoid this. It is about as uninspired as a Xasthur album, and is little more than a sloppily cobbled-together record that is comprised of stolen riffs and mediocre ideas. The vocals, alone, would be reason enough to line the band members up and shoot them dead. Sterbend is a joke and is not even worth hearing for the comedic effect. 
(17 Apr. 2012)

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