Not content with just releasing music for the sake of releasing, UK resident Matthew Bunkell (also of Light Bearer and Black Mass) has poured his heart and soul into Schönesende (german for 'beautiful ending') for 3 years to come up with this; the eponymous debut album. And before I delve a little bit further into the album, I can tell you it is a simply stellar release. Everything just feels so right about it. I honestly can't find anything I would like more in a black metal release. It just ticks all my boxes. For something that was basically created entirely on his own it sounds absolutely massive. I mean, one-man black metal has been around for ages, but in my opinion, Matthew raises the bar for the next generations. Composition, musicianship, production, all of it is of a very, very high caliber.
And it's not just the 'outside' that makes this such a great album. A writer of short stories and novels himself, Matthew decided to take his interests in philosophy, psychology and literature and combine them within Schönesende. Sure, it might sound a bit high-brow but it never feels contrived. You know: 'ooh look at me being all philosophical, look at all these fancy writers I list as influences'. No, Schönesende feels honest and heartfelt. By the way, Matthey is only 27, but displays a maturity well beyond his age.
Music-wise Schönesende can be situated alongside acts like Fauna, Wolves In The Throne Room, Woods Of Desolation, Altar Of Plagues, Deafheaven etc.. If you're into those kind of bands, Schönesende is a no-brainer. He can easily match himself with the best of them. At nearly 70 minutes it might seem a bit long for a black metal album, but really the songs breeze by without me ever losing interest in them. 'Rise, Moloch', for example, clocks in at 22 minutes but the way Matthew maintains the focus and immerses you in the whole album, time becomes something trivial. For all I care all the songs could be over an hour each and they would still have the ability to keep me hooked.
I know that I have a knack for becoming all hyperbolic whenever I discover something this good but for once I know all the praise this album will undoubtedly get will be entirely deserved. It is quite simply put, a triumph...