There are bands that try to push boundaries and there are those that really explode through them. Black Metal actually by definition lends itself to the later. Underneath the surface of 'buzzsaw' extremity lies bizarre atmospheric sound effects, vocal play and truly unique song structures. Just to look to bands like Anaal Nathrakh, Deathspell Omega and Aborym. Making for their third release in 26 years, The White Death, by Norway’s Fleurety is out this Friday (27th). Fleurety is everything you’d expect from Black Metal’s more experimentally out there bands and their long standing career just shows their determination to keep making music whilst their output being mostly Demo’s and EP’s successfully keeps them to the underground. Perhaps this makes sense for the truly avant-garde metal act.
The White Death has moments of early Satyricon that make it quite noteworthy. It conjures an evil spirit right from the get go. Hauntingly we are also layered with chants akin to Opera IX or Theatres Des Vampires but it’s always for the sake of atmosphere. The title track prefigures the rest of the album with its long length that acts as a foreboding start preparing us for the stranger moments within the album. In this way it’s a good opener and perhaps one of the better ways for newcomers to experience the band. It is still there to hold its own against other Black Metal bands but with just a bit of folk like Aes Dana.
Palm muted moments and spoken word takes over as the album slowly brings on more noise-esque qualities. It never relents a sense of atmosphere like a great spell looming over us. This experimental approach to guitar work and atmosphere, layered with abstract ways to look at vocal work that destroys the very idea of songs as music, never stops for a moment. ‘The Science of Normality’ sees this true chaos completely in a drum beat that is both memorable and all over the place. It gets better but certainly makes its mark for being memorable. ‘Future Day’ shows the spoken word completely realised for an almost sweet folk song sung in haunting clean vocals. It feels like a stop for the album, like an instrumental track. It might take hold.
For this album to work, it takes a certain type of ear. On top of all the experimental ways it chants it’s spells for us we have a good dose of the near ambiguous nature of some of Burzum’s songs. By the close of the album and the final track ‘Ritual of Light and Taxidermy’ takes to the stage, it becomes just how obvious the band are like marmite but a fine tuned marmite. Black Metal has its audience and that audience will either love or hate this. For some it will be one of the most daring albums of the year. To others it becomes just a moot point of annoyance. ‘Ritual of Light and Taxidermy’ feels like the ultimate example of this. Through experimental vocals and noises the song pushes into the new ground of Black Metal melancholy. However, through it’s almost improvised and desperate vocals it feels annoyingly painful. Fleurety are truly unique but to where they wish to tread is hard to tell and perhaps no one will ever know.