Friday, September 2, 2011

Fyrnask - Bluostar (2011)

The concept of the one-man, multi-instrumentalist black metal band continues to surprise as the years roll forth. Where we could once expect, at best, a decent riff writer with good snarls, atmospheric keyboards, and drum programming know-how, we are now coming across individuals who possess all the talents that were characteristic of an entire 4-5 piece outfit. Germany's Fyrnask is one such entity, and its sole progenitor Fyrnd does just above everything. Intense, layered guitar riffing, simmering synths, drums, clean and harsh vocals, and bass (though admittedly, this last one is not a prevalent factor on the album). Bluostar must have involved an enormous amount of effort, but in the end, the product is punishing, tactile, and fulfilling.

There are two sides to this story. The first involves the ambient musings, which are incredibly well produced and engrossing. Futuristic swells of droning synthesizers make for a panorama of the paranoid and ominous, from "Eit Fjell Av Jern" to "Die Firner Tiefen", or the more involved intro "At Fornu Fari", which is by far the most haunting of the lot, until the folksy, minimal flailing of the guitars enters the picture. The rest of the album is a storm of thick and dynamic black metal textures, with riffing redolent of Norse and Swedish masters Emperor, Marduk, Enslaved, Satyricon and Immortal. The guitars are not always configured into the most bewitching or noble patterns, but they almost always develop as the songs escalate, spawning melodies that split off from the central surge of aggression like skin dissembling from a skull as an axe hacks it in twain. But Fyrnd doesn't stop there. He introduces a lot of variation in clean guitar segments, chanting tones and occasional breaks in the thundering speed.

That's a good thing, because of the metal tracks on the album, not one falls beneath the 8 minute mark! These are mammoths, ranging from about 8-11 minutes, and without this range of riffing, I get the impression that the album would fall flat on its ass. Fortunately, even the bloated title track has enough diversity to grab hold and maintain the listener's attention span, from its sad and arching former half to the tranquil eruptions of the latter. Fyrnask is quite fond of contrasting the general propulsion of the genre with a sudden, ambient or choir break, and the result is one of tidal transcendence. I can't promise that Bluostar is an entirely memorable effort, but I am nonetheless awestruck by Fyrnd's singular musical prowess. Rich production standards and a whirling, storming dichotomy of ingredients make for a compelling experience, and the already wealthy German black metal scene has grown one stronger. Considerably stronger.

Verdict: Win [7.75/10]

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