Strega by Die SündeRelease date: October 14, 2022
Label: Ripcord Records / Drown Within Records / Violence In The Veins
The ties between metal and nature, particularly when it comes to doom and black metal, are long standing and are almost embedded within the form itself; metal’s relationship with the feminine, though, has often felt spotty at best and downright hostile at its worst. The links between nature and feminine energy are tightly intertwined, though, so the rise in artists who embrace both over the past few decades has felt like the righting of an especially obnoxious wrong. Italy’s Die Sünde may be late to the party but Strega, an EP that explores the role of the witch in nature, folklore and society across 20 minutes of black metal, sludge, hardcore and post-metal, is a worthy addition to an ever-growing musical tradition.
From a purely sonic standpoint, Strega is an immediate success. It opens at a glacial but deliberate pace, layering delicate melodies and pulsating, spaced-out synths over what feels like an eternity. It rises in urgency and volume but as it seems to reach the now-obligatory post-metal climax, it dials back once again into reflection and introspection. The eventual eruption of violence comes with no fanfare, just a sharp injection of pain and sound; a sudden rush that sucks the air out of the atmosphere they have carefully crafted to leave the listener emotionally breathless. So begins a turbulent journey that drifts through hulking riffs and flighty bursts of fury, a cutting and often poignant trip that flirts with many styles and tones but thankfully steers clear of cliché.
There’s an exquisitely expansive quality to Strega, a sense of breath and patience that allows each individual component the opportunity to swell and meld with what surrounds it. This is helped in large part by an eclectic vocal performance that crosses the harsh, claustrophobic screeches of black metal and doom’s throatier, more bestial roar but occasionally strays into more earnest fare that borders on mid-90s emo’s straightforward intensity. It’s here that Die Sünde’s hardcore influences come to the fore and they provide a humanising counterpoint to the earthy force of their riffing, a struggle between the blunt power of nature and humanity’s desperate railing against it.
To an extent, the greatest strength that Die Sünde display sometimes threatens to be their greatest hurdle. They have described their approach to music as picking the strongest elements from their diverse musical tastes and bringing them together into a cohesive whole so there is sometimes a sense of Strega trying to cram an album’s worth of ideas into a single song. It’s testament to their skills, though, that nothing here feels forced. It all sits in service to a grander narrative, one of destruction and rebirth, and the great care that has been taken to relate this concept through sound and vision is unmistakeable. Strega is a work that is genuinely powerful, sometimes harrowing and at others chillingly elegant, and for anyone seeking the perfect marriage of concept, conviction and sheer sonic punishment, it’s an absolute treat.