(BadWolf reviews the debut album by a Dutch black metal trio known as Fluisteraars, which was released a few days ago by Eisenwald.)
I’ve lived through ups and downs with lo-fi long-form black metal. On the one hand, the millennial USBM style, particularly the work of Krieg and the Lurker of Chalice record, made powerful inroads for black metal into my musical library. I’m also an absolute sucker for anything resembling the ten-plus-minute Tolkien worship of Summoning. On the other hand, I was never all about the blown-out Burzum style, and I prefer crusty Darkthrone to their earlier stuff (though I’ve been spinning that Ravishing Grimness quite a bit in this icy, polar weather). So imagine my surprise when an old-style euro black metal release, by Dutch trio Fluisteraars, comes across my desk and usurps my Behemoth listening. What I found has made the perfect companion to my past few days of sub-zero drives into the office.
Dromers, the first Fluisteraars record, consists of three extended tracks—in fact, the promo listed the songs in the style of an LP, with “De Doornen” taking up all of side A, and “Kudeddier” and “Wortels Van Angst” taking up side B. Add to the mix a folksy, almost Enslaved riff style, and a super-creepy cover, and I was hooked.
For a first album, Fluisteraars made a series of intelligent decisions in composition and sound design. The vocals, of the croaked and rasped variety, stay buried in the mix so that they don’t interfere with the focus here. The guitar work carries a bit of vintage folk melody with it, but doesn’t incorporate full acoustic, or finger-picked, passages. There’s just enough rootsy quality to make the riffs sound exotic to my ears. By contrast, the drums carry a bit of thrash to them at times—a more blast-heavy style would make this music “atmospheric,” but the drums keep things moving forward at all times. More importantly, the bass sounds boosted and round—the rhythm section pounds-then-bounces in counterpoint to the scraping guitar. Their arrangements feel full, without any need for a second guitar, even though Fluisteraars ride only a handful of riffs on the album.
Take opener “De Doornen.” At sixteen minutes flat, it’s the longest track on Dromers, but cycles through by my count three main riffs: an introductory jam, a more energetic second piece, and finally a huge melodic riff, over which Fluisteraars’ vocalist screams the title over and over, transforming it from a chorus to an anthem, and finally a battle chant. This band know how to get the most mileage out of whatever they write.
That songwriting economy carries through the remainder of Dromers, even though the following two songs don’t follow the epic trajectory of the first. I could describe the remainder of the record in depth, but it’s streaming in full on their Bandcamp.
Dromers dropped earlier this week, and it’s well worth your time.