(In this August 2017 edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews all three of the albums released to date by the German black metal band Fyrnask, the most recent of which was 2016’s Fórn.)
Recommended for fans of: Altar of Plagues, Leviathan, The Great Old Ones
It doesn’t seem like a full month has passed, does it? I swear it feels like only yesterday I was putting the final coat of paint and polish on the 87th edition of The Synn Report, and yet here I am again, scrambling to get #88 finished.
Heavy on atmosphere, yet equally heavy in terms of metallic venom and visceral aggression, Fyrnask neatly sidestep the introverted navel-gazing that afflicts much of the “Post-“ scene by virtue of a single-minded focus on ravenous creative expression and pure, primal catharsis.
Over the course of three impressively multifaceted and multilayered albums, the most recent of which, Fórn, came out just last year, Fyrnask mainman Fyrnd (who handles all instruments and vocals) has continued to explore and expand his sonic palette, incorporating a wealth of exotic instrumentation and esoteric ambience into the mix, although the foundation of the band’s sound remains grounded in bloody and raw-boned Black Metal.
So if you’re looking for something which offers both an instant spark and a deeper, longer-lasting burn, then please… read on.
BLUOSTAR – 2011
Opener “At fornu fari” is a chilling slow-burn of eerie, windswept ambience and brittle, frostbitten guitar leads which, eventually, gives way to the near ten-minute deluge of “Evige Stier”, all writhing riffage and rivetingly intense, impressively intricate drum work – which shifts between restrained, ritualistic rhythms and torrential blastery in style – intermingled with passages of brooding melody and reverential clean vocals, sombre acoustic guitar work and ethereal layers of keyboards, all of which combine together into one utterly seamless, and undeniably spellbinding, experience.
The simmering synth-led “Eit Fjell av Jern” leads into the ominous ebb and flow of “Ein eld i djupna”, which wraps its core of barbed-wire riffage and spite-fuelled vocals in a grim aura of ambient gloom, while the creeping drone of “Bergar” (reminiscent, in part, of the ever-divisive Myrkur) slowly but surely builds into a mammoth piece of dense, doom-laden Black Metal misanthropy reminiscent of early Wolves In The Throne Room, only to be succeeded in turn by the windswept and storm-driven strains of “Ins Fenn”, whose gleaming melodies and smouldering riffs writhe and roil beneath a veil of moody, malevolent synths and bleak, unrelenting atmospherics.
The penultimate title-track is both the longest and most involved song on the album, conjuring a smouldering sense of creeping dread as it grows, from humble beginnings, into a grim and gritty procession of crackling, icy chords and nerve-jangling bass lines, ashen, angst-ridden vocals, and restrained, reverberant percussion, before finally exploding in one climactic burst of blackened adrenaline and aggression, with only the morbid comedown of “O O O” left to soothe the listener’s stunned senses.
ELDIR NÓTT – 2013
Album number two showcases a darker, even more atmospheric sound than the band’s debut, kicking off (following the rather unambitiously-named intro track) with the raging riffs, flaying tremolo lines, and foreboding synths of “Vigil”, which immediately introduces the listener to the crisper, clearer, and altogether icier sound of this album, which hits the eardrums with an extra level of bite and bitterness this time around, without sacrificing an ounce of ambience or atmosphere in the process.
At a little over twelve minutes in length, “Jarðeldr” is by some margin the band’s most extensive and ambitious composition yet, the use of arcane instruments and eerie, enigmatic keys drawing some comparisons with the works of Negură Bunget at their very best – although the eruption of fire and ferocity which follows this sombre introduction is several shades heavier (not to mention blacker/bleaker), than one would traditionally associate with the Romanian duo, and finds Fyrnask exploring the same sorts of punishing, post-apocalyptic sounds as the much-missed and highly-revered Altar of Plagues, matching seething silence with scorching savagery.
It’s perhaps not surprising that “Suonnas sedir” is a calmer and more sedate affair, given the sheer immensity of the song which preceded it, and the more measured, melodic pace of the track offers a welcome breather in advance of the riffed up, blast-fuelled frenzy which follows, in the form of the utterly merciless “Saltrian”, one of the most aggressive and unrelenting tracks which the band has ever produced.
“Samas stígr” once again offers a welcome moment for the listener to collect their thoughts, focussing more on ritualistic ambience and archaic melody than metallic fury, before the album’s penultimate track – the ten-minute “Síaiða” – proves itself to be one of the grimmest and grandest and most gripping (in the “hands around your throat” sense) numbers on the entire album.
FÓRN – 2016
As good as the previous two albums are, Fórn is just that little bit better, capturing a sense of searing intensity and crippling existential anguish similar to that of Leviathan at his/their very best.
The phantom-like ambience of opener “Forbænir” eventually gives way to the blistering “Draugr” whose avalanche of pulse-pounding blastbeats, scything riffage, and howling vocals epitomises the increasingly dark and dissonant nature of the band’s sound, employing sudden stabs of skittering fretwork, delicious devious melody, or dire, doomy ambience, to puncture and punctuate the squally torrent of pitch-black poison which dominates the track.
Follow-up “Niðrdráttr” continues the grim and grisly theme of its predecessor, but layers on more and more baleful melody and shrouded atmospherics as the song progresses, making the ambient interlude of “Vi er dømt” which follows a welcome reprieve from the menacing metallic furore.
Of course this reprieve doesn’t last long, and “Agnis Offer” delivers all the thrills and chills of Black Metal at its most fearless and focussed, melding hypnotic rhythms and harrowing vocals with an overarching air of sinister ambience and close-knit paranoia.
The gargantuan “Blótan” is heavy enough and aggressive enough to strip the flesh from your bones if you’re not careful, but also haunting and unsettling enough to bring you out in goosebumps throughout, the relentless savagery of the guitars and drums laying down a tapestry of torment into which Fyrnd weaves threads of ghastly melody and evocative, atmospheric synths (not to mention some surprisingly taut and technical fretwork) in a manner not too far removed from fellow Germanic extreme expressionists Der Weg Einer Freiheit.
It is perhaps worth mentioning, before heading into the album’s ferocious finale, that the interludes on Fórn – such as the preceding “Urðmaðr”, or the unsettling melancholia of “Fornsǫngvar” – do more than just take up space. Unlike so many other bands/albums which attempt this, the soundscaped intermissions interwoven in amongst the main metallic meat of the album all serve to enhance the overall flavor of the experience, enhancing the ebb and flow, the push and pull, of intense, intimate forces at work here.
Thus, by the time that “Kenoma” rolls around, radiating rage and pain and intangible need, you should be more than prepared for the album’s grand finale, which manifests itself in just under eight minutes of desolate atmospheric passages and caustic, biting riffage, all topped by a veritable litany of scornful shrieks and uncanny, ululating vocals, and driven by a whirling dervish of pure percussive power, after which the unearthly epilogue of “Havets kjele” draws things to a suitably spine-tingling close.