DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT‘s last album Stellar was pretty aptly named and got a few tongues wagging, but now their three previous albums all seem like the groundwork before reaching Finisterre. In DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT it’s good to have a young and growing black metal band who don’t rely on an archaic sound solely aping the classic bands of the past, but equally don’t disappear into a sea of faceless acts dishing out esoteric but often incoherent chaos or wistful but detached post-black metal. Not that they are the only one, but DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT‘s sound is distinct while carrying black metal’s purest essence within every facet. It’s direct, grandiose, dark, and unspeakably ferocious, and Finisterre sees them reaching a new peak in spectacular fashion.
Where Finisterre excels beyond its predecessors is a wonderful use of songwriting dynamics. The track lengths are immediately striking, the shortest song (provided you count the two parts of Skepsis together as they flow so beautifully) coming in at nearly ten minutes with every other breaching it. These long songs though are exceptionally crafted, not necessarily crammed with an overflow of ideas but with each individual idea developed to its ultimate conclusion, often simultaneously alongside others. There’s a remarkable amount of breathing space for music so full-on, and full-on it is. From the moment opening track Aufbruch’s spoken word intro passes and the song roars into life, Finisterre is ear-bleedingly visceral. It’s gifted a fantastic production job (especially impressive given the band self-produced it) that accents the sheer savagery but with clarity. The guitars are frost-bitten but not muddied or raw, the drums are absolutely thunderous, and this allows the extra elements the band brings to the table to shine.
One such element are the choral vocals that immediately demand attention once they appear in Aufbruch. Used as backing to emphasise frontman Nikita Kamprad’s screams, they immediately add a level of hellish grandeur that makes the song all the more imposing. It’s the one of the most instantly jaw-dropping moments on an album that is rammed full of them throughout its five tracks. When Aufbruch opens up towards its climax, the clean vocals shift from choral harbingers of the end to drawn out pleas to the heavens, channelling Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk into a skyrocketing crescendo. The clean guitar that introduces Ein Letzter Tanz is allowed to ring out and build, becoming more and more forceful to the point where you can palpably feel the strings being beaten into submission before it gives way to the full might of the band with staggering force, and as the instrumental Skepsis Part I escalates, propelled by ingenious drum-work not content to play a straight blast beat, it reaches near transcendence – before the rug is pulled from under you and Part II drops into absolute barbarity without warning.
Even when moving into quieter passages, Finisterre doesn’t lose momentum for a second. It is devoid of fat across its run-time and incredibly coherent, resulting in something that is both a white-knuckled thrill ride and a work with deep emotional poignancy. There’s a magnificence and splendour to Finisterre that’s akin to classical music without ever having to use actual symphonic elements, reminiscent of EMPEROR in full flight, harnessing MYSTICUM-esque mechanical onslaught but achieving the incredible emotive crescendos that DEAFHEAVEN would be proud of. Dissonance is not used to confuse or terrify, but to emote with the context of greater compositions. Every single chord progression is loaded with so much purpose, constantly glued to the path to something greater. The growth from previous records is apparent; before DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT were a good band, but now they’re world class.
Finisterre is out now via Season of Mist.
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