REVIEWED: Finsterforst's 'Zerfall'
An ode to the savage natural beauty of Germany’s Black Forest region, Finsterforst’s brooding progressive metal has been delighting fans of their folk-inspired dark melodies since 2004. Straddling the gulf between the cheesiness of pagan metal and the grim frostbitten atmospherics of black, the slightly whimsical, yet utterly enchanting and fiercely patriotic eight-member collective have just dropped their latest stunning opus, Zerfall.
Opening with eerie, quasi-religious chants and waves of synth-infused, heavy percussion, the first track Wut gradually builds layers of murky atmosphere. Blending rage-filled vocals with mounting, doom-laden crescendos, and adding in more calming folk instrumentals that undulate gently until stormy riffs come crashing in like a turbulent weather front, Wut perfectly encapsulates the dramatic allure of the Black Forest. Zerfall, a staggering synthesis of symphonic metal with breath-taking orchestral elements, also calls to mind the sublimities of the natural landscape - the mighty forests that blanket the hills and the soaring, snow-topped peaks of the band’s native climes. Fluch des Seins mixes a classically-inspired choir of deep male vocals with a satisfying outpouring of gut-wrenching riffs and pounding, tribal drums that fall like tumbling stones in a sudden mountain rock-fall, all shot through with fluttering folk pipes. The mood of Weltenbrand is tense and emotionally stirring, ambient chords and suspenseful, almost tragic moments of reflective vocals playing out against a falling avalanche of furious riffs. The lengthy, yet oddly uplifting Ecce Homo invites the listener on an epic journey, delving deep into the well of primordial myth for inspiration and panning across glacial soundscapes made up of resounding beats that swirl like blizzards, clean, alpine vocals that could cut through glass and spirited, earth-shaking chords.
Although but five tracks long, each song on Zerfall is around ten minutes or more, with the insanely lengthy Ecce Homo clocking in at 36 minutes, making the album an intense listening experience not to be taken lightly. You can check out the shorter single versions of a couple of the numbers, but we’d recommend settling down in front of a roaring fire, preferably in a mountain lodge up in the wind-whipped icy heights somewhere, and indulging in the entire powerful creation in one sitting.
Pure Black Forest magic. 4/5