Label: Prophecy Productions / Lupus Lounge
Genre: Black Metal
Release Date: 21st April 2017
With so many metal releases every year—every week, really—it’s hard to sift through what’s worth listening to, what’s more of the same old same old, and what truly excels. As with most genres of music, 95% of what gets released is regurgitated mush, and while some of that can be amazing, most of it is not. Then you get that 5% of music which actually does something new and incredible, or re-defines a genre, or does something so well it makes you want to weep with joy. That’s where reading reviews comes in, where getting a second and third opinion before you plunk down your hard-earned money for a band you’ve never heard of before, or an older band that has been wheezing on life-support, really does help.
Case in point today is Farsot, a German Black Metal band that has been around since the late 90’s and whose output certainly isn’t prolific, but they have made their few releases mean something. Each of their albums have been good to great, and for a band that has mostly been ignored by the mainstream, this is a shame. More people should be turned on to this group and their sound, and an exploration of their back catalogue (two demos, two full-lengths, one split) certainly won’t eat up your time or your budget, and you might just discover a “new” band that thrills and amazes you. Maybe a band that deserves to be ranked in that top 5% of Great instead of the lower 95% of Meh to Okay. And now Farsot have a new release, “Fail·Lure” to contemplate. Does this new disc hold up to past offerings?
Right out the gate we get what defines Farsot as a band with the song “Vitriolic”: creepy, weird, loopy laughter, Black Metal assault, shrieky and strange vocals, and then a drop to more melodic fair, with mechanical vocals, and we’re off into some Prog and Black territory. Atmosphere drips from this song, nine minutes of crush and melody, shriek and growls, and almost cybernetic emoting. This band struts their stuff and you can’t help but be swept up into the sheer insanity of this. Imagine a bit of the Sci-Fi weirdness of Voivod mixed with occasional blast beats and Black Metal strumming, while throwing in a dash of cosmic atmosphere. That’s “Vitriolic,” and that’s the essence of this entire album.
Second track “Circular Stains” opens with a plaintive guitar, all alone, emotional and seeking, when the drums roll in and things pick up. Lots of melody here, whispered vocals riding along with the music, tidal waves building in strength and power. Dynamics galore in a song that can crush one minute and soothe with darkness the next.
Third song “With Obsidian Hands” opens much the same, with some odd keyboard sounds flitting in the corners before the mid-paced crunch comes thudding in. This song reminds me of a march, of a journey across plague-encrusted cities, smoldering rubble, and the miserable moans of the suffering survivors. Those Abbath-like vocals return on this song, anchoring the weight of the sporadic Black Metal, and giving the mellower parts more grit.
“Undercurrents” starts as more traditional Metal, the kind you’d find in the early 90’s, where bands like Testament were adding and subtracting from their Thrash sound by utilizing more melody and slower riffs. That’s not to say this is “commercial” in any sense of the word, but it certainly doesn’t melt your face. The pace picks up and the song hits those blast beats about 1:40 in, bringing chaos to the sound, although it is bottled and contained. Again, there’s that atmosphere that inundates every note and pore of this record. Really nice, plaintive guitar and vocals about 3:20 into the song.
Fifth song “The Antagonist” flits with the melodic guitar intro like half of this album does, tentative, hesitant, before opening into a big, fat riff and rumbling drums. Slow, punishing, this song pushes forward like a fat man with stubby legs, tottering and reeling, and so very heavy. Around 2:50 we get a patented breakdown acoustic passage with those haunting, almost-goth vocals, before blast beats raise this lumbering beast up from a lurch and into a full sprint. I really love those riffs that crunch in at the 3:20 mark, accompanied by the chant vocals.
Last song, “A Hundred to Nothing” opens with some bass plucking (on a Black Metal album? Hell yes) followed by more melodic guitar work, both ushering in the shortest song on the record (at 5:43 in length). For about the millionth time, the word “emotional” comes to mind, and not in a weepy woe-is-me kind of way, but that feeling you get when you hear a song and you can tell, just tell, that the performers are throwing their souls into it. This one has that in spades. As a closer, “A Hundred to Nothing” feels like an epilogue, a gentle way to drift out of the madness and weirdness of the proceeding 42 minutes and gently phase back into the real world. It is an instrumental treat, no vocals, and a perfect ending to the story.
Does this record reach that 5% of awesome? If it doesn’t, it certainly comes close. Fail·Lure is not the kind of record that is going to send you careening around your living room, moshing like a maniac, but it will bend your brain and tug at your heart, all the while delivering the metal goods. There’s plenty of Black in there, bits of Goth and Atmospheric, and touches of Prog, that gives the recording some taunt sinew to go with the muscle. For those of you wishing to expand your palate, to try something new, something that will challenge you as a listener, this is one for you. This isn’t beer and nacho chips metal, this is wine and mushrooms metal, trippy and refined. A good pair of headphones will help.
Oh, and dig that awesome album cover…
2. Circular Stains
3. With Obsidian Hands
5. The Antagonist
6. A Hundred to Nothing
Total Playing Time: 47:48