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Finsterforst - Zerfall Award winner

by Damian Smith at 01 October 2019, 4:23 PM

I’ll be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with Folk Metal. Throughout the years, I’ve no doubt come across a handful of releases that appealed to me, but when it comes to the sort of bouncy, jubilant fare about trolls, pirates, or drinking excessive amounts of liquor, I tend to tune out pretty quickly. Maybe I just have something against accordions, and Jew’s harps. But, it’s just not a genre that I ever developed a taste for. That said, I do have fond memories of attending Paganfest here in Canada back in 2009, where I was introduced to the likes of MOONSORROW, and PRIMORDIAL. The experience of witnessing those bands, with their rich, and epic compositions made me realize that there might be a side to Folk Metal that I was missing out on. And, now it seems like I can add Germany’s FINSTERFORST to that growing list of Folk Metal bands that have surprised me!

Zerfall”, which is the bands fifth full-length album, and third with Napalm Records, clocks in at a whopping one hour, and eighteen minutes, with the last song, “Ecce Homo” accounting for over thirty-six minutes of that. This album is like the aural equivalent of marathoning a season of Game of Thrones. It’s exhilarating, triumphant, beautiful, incredibly well composed, and the mix is practically flawless. Seriously, strap yourself in. Sitting down with this album is going to require some commitment but it’s absolutely worth your time.

Let’s talk about the production on this album for a moment, which was handled by Christoph Brandes. Even with all of the different sounds, and instrumentation on “Zerfall,” Christoph has managed to reel everything in, and give it all its own space. It’s an incredibly lush, and atmospheric record, but it’s not so soaked in reverb that it ever gets murky. The drums are punchy without being too over the top, and the guitars sound absolutely enormous, and are no doubt enhanced by the band's use of big, airy pads, brass orchestration and and choral sections. That wretched accordion I talked about earlier is still here, but I’m willing to look past it since everything else is so on point. There’s a lot going on vocally, as well, from the standard, blackened snarl, to soaring cleans, and layered chants. All of which are pulled off, and organized very well, and add a great deal of depth to the songs.

Thinking back, I genuinely don’t have much to complain about with respect to this album. I tend to prefer longer run-times, and compositions, so even the length isn’t really a point of contention for me. The album never really suffers from becoming dull, or tedious, and I found there was always something interesting going on to hold my attention.

So, does this mean I’m on my way to becoming a fan of Folk Metal? Is FINSTERFORST the band who will ultimately win me over on the genre? After listening to one of their  previously released tracks, titled “#YOLO,” I can tell you, emphatically, that the answer is still very much “no”. But, they definitely got it right on “Zerfall”! Admittedly, this isn’t the sort of album that I would’ve gone looking for, nor is it the kind of album that I’d choose to listen to on a regular basis. But, I’m glad I gave it the time, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

Songwriting:  10
Originality:  9
Memorability:  10
Production:  10


5 Star Rating

1. Wut
2. Zerfall
3. Fluch Des Seins
4. Weltenbrand
5. Ecce Homo
Tobias Weinreich – Bass
Simon Schillinger – Guitars, Vocals, Orchestration
Sebastian Scherrer – Keyboards
David Schuldis – Guitars
Cornelius Heck – Drums
Oliver Berlin - Vocals
Record Label: Napalm Records


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Edited 08 December 2022

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