The German black metal sextet Geist is preoccupied with nautical imagery and atmospheres on their third album, the title of which translates to "Galley." Song titles include (in English) "Winter at Sea" and "Under a Dead Captain," and the cover art depicts a ghost ship adrift. On the band's debut, they played a more folk-influenced style, with acoustic instruments adding a woodsy mood, but at this point they're thoroughly electric and revved-up, with sound effects that hint at ocean voyages and subtly deployed keyboards linking the five long tracks. Oh, and accordion. "Einen Winter auf See" features a prominent accordion section about two-thirds of the way through -- right about where the dramatic recitation kicks in on Iron Maiden's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Except instead of bits of Coleridge, here you get blastbeats and buzzsaw guitars interspersed with yo-ho-ho squeeze-box interludes, plus vocals, all in German, that sound like Rammstein's Till Lindemann shrieking at the top of his range (which isn't very high). Seriously, some of the more adventurous sounds here (like the synth-heavy intro to the crunching, melodic "Helike") are pretty great; this is definitely not by-the-numbers black metal by any means. And in "Unter Toten Kapitanen," the band has their own "Rime," a near-16-minute epic including serious guitar soloing, atmospheric synths, and ominous, pounding drums. Geist have done a great job of stretching their chosen genre's boundaries; this is an album well-worth seeking out for your next long voyage, be it by sea, air, or land.
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AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman