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Firtan - Niedergang

by Erika Kuenstler at 17 September 2014, 1:04 PM

Having seen the German Black Metal trio FIRTAN play at Ragnarök Festival at the beginning of the year, I was eager to see how their debut full-length album “Niedergang” panned out. Released in May, “Niedergang” starts off with a very atmospheric, dark, and ominous intro, before launching into the remaining eight tracks, with a total play-time just shy of 50 minutes. Teetering on the very brink of the chasm of Black Metal, FIRTAN nevertheless manage to stay true to this, whilst still incorporating more Melodic and Pagan parts, resulting in atmospheric yet devastating music.

The opening track, “Angst”, is a tumultuous affair, whirling through chaotic madness on the tattered wings of Depressive Black Metal. The vocal style employed here is somewhat unorthodox given the context of the rest of the instruments, and this does take some getting used to. It is vaguely reminiscent of a screamier version of the style used by Seuche, the vocalist of FÄULNIS, and whilst such a style is fairly common within the German Black Metal scene, it can be jarring to those more used to the vocal styles used by Scandinavian Black Metal artists. But this aside, with the lyrics for “Angst” and “Zwischen Wahn Und Sinn” have been taken from renowned poets, and the music truly does bring to life a haunting sepulchre soundscape that glimmers with sheens of despair and anguish, doing full justice to these wordsmiths of old. Breaking up the more tempestuous passages with calmer interludes, the music nonetheless possesses a searing melancholic beauty that captivates the listener. Things take a more Pagan twist in “Firtan”, with diaphanous melodies being woven into the blackness, resulting in a powerful and evocative track.

This album follows a certain course, with the more Black Metal tracks taking up the first part of “Niedergang”, whilst the latter half becomes increasingly synth-laden. This results in the instruments in “Zwischen Wahn Und Sinn” taking on an almost mid-era DIMMU BORGIR feel, which is further emphasised by the piano sections. Perhaps my favourite track on this album is “Seelenfänger”; it is on this song that I feel FIRTAN has managed to strike the perfect balance between the desolation of Black Metal and more Melodic and Epic vividness. “Niedergang” ends with “Huckup”, a winding track that meanders through atmospheric and forsaken soundscapes; the slower tempo sections lend the composition an air of futility, whilst the more upbeat parts bring you to rage against this inner darkness. Ending with a whispered coldness, this brings the album full circle, tying in with the murmured chanting in the intro track.

Overall, this album is a very good debut effort, although there is still some room for improvement. As mentioned before, the synths are a bit heavy-handed near the end of the album, and the vocals (although excellently executed) is a bit jarring for those unaccustomed to this style. Whether you love or hate this album depends mainly on how accepting you are of this particular vocal technique. However, this is still an innovative album that is well thought out and well played. With three of the songs from “Niedergang” being available as free download on the band’s website, you really have no excuse not to check them out.

4 Star Rating

1. Intro
2. Angst
3. Hypnos & Thanatos
4. Firtan
5. Zwischen Wahn Und Sinn
6. Seelenfänger
7. Wogen Der Trauer
8. Oneiros
9. Huckup
Phillip Thienger - Keyboards, Vocals, Guitars
Oliver König - Bass
Martin "Troll" Lindner - Drums
Record Label: Einheit Produktion


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