I have had a bit of an infatuation with Fleurety ever since hearing their incredibly weird and breath-taking 1995 album Min tid Skal Komme. It subverted genre within the black metal world that I had come to love from Norway and was incredibly otherworldly and strange. The progressive master-class that is The Department Of Apocalyptic Affairs followed after stopgap EP Last Minute Lies 5 years later and baffled and bamboozled even more. We may have floundered in a sea of quiddity thanks to bands such as Virus, Ved Buens Ende, Manes, In The Woods and Arcturus in the interim but nothing compared for this not even a steady diet of everything from Zappa to The Cardiacs. It still remains one of the most out-there albums of all times. Then principal proponents Alexander Nordgaren and Svein Egil Hatlevik seemingly jumped on the album cover’s grenade and blew themselves to pieces. Well not quite so dramatic but they did disappear in a cloud of smoke for some time to come.

Now of course there is the excitement of a new album due on Peaceville later this year and we await with high expectation to what is essentially Department’s follow up The White Death. However in the interim the duo have been active under the Fleurety banner and been releasing 7” singles between 2009 and 2017 via their original label Aesthetic Death, 4 of which should be gracing any self-respecting fan’s collection. Here we see them all gathered on one compilation album which proves and absolutely perfect listening experience to bridge the gap whilst we wait for that 3rd important studio album.

Beginning this devilish Descent Into Darkness we can hear the path between releases flowing from where they left off. The duo had no shortage of friends and indeed had played in acts such as Dodheimsgard and Mayhem (live) so it should be no surprise to see the likes of Necrobutcher and Hellhammer involved on this opening exercise in cacophonous sound contortion. Highly experimental and as non-linear as one would remember the blackness is brought to the fore by hellish vocals courtesy of Thorrs’ Hammer and Khylst vocalist Runhild Gammelsæter. Wait though to be rewarded by a gorgeous albeit skewed guitar melody that could only really be the work of Nordgaren. Electronic focus becomes more prolific as this album goes on due to Hatlevik’s experimentation with solo project Zweiss. Is that a swine we hear on 2nd track Choirs or the man himself gurgling away as introduction? Expect the unexpected on a bed of harsh noise before a blackened rampage tears off in headlong blind panic on ‘Absence’. A couple of years passes before Evoco Bestias was unveiled and the beasts are summoned via obtuse musical progressiveness and the outlandish avant-garde vocals of Ayna Beate Johansen from I Left The Planet. It’s all a bit of a very strange trip, pitched between various musical genres as ever and leaving the listener with one hell of a task trying to make sense of it all as Hatlevik harsh vocals bite through on second cut ‘The Animal Of The City.’

The striking artwork of Trine + Kim Design Studio, Greg Chandler mastering and maddening Latin titles are reactivated again in 2013. ‘The Degenerate Machine’ is cranked up with long flowing guitar work courtesy of neo classical guitarist Carl August Tidemann and almost drum and bass like patterns while Hatelvik barks his way through things and discordant noise and battering drums work together in a height of disorientation which somehow all gels together. ‘It’s When Your Cold’ on the b) side proves to be a quagmire of sonic confusion leaving you feeling all at sea and throwing up over the side. Lo-Fi in the extreme it sounds like it could be decades old and the backing vocals Marianne LL Melgard add to the strangeness once it settles down and drifts off. Bang up to date the last EP is purely an instrumental affair but no less beguiling and has some of the most hypnotic melodies heard in years as well as some serious clattering skewed rhythms. As per usual all sorts of odd sounding characters add to the manic patina of sounds, listen out for KalleConatus on keyboards and Cunt Krilackh on flute for example and be tortured or enchanted by what sounds like it could be an alien jazz band playing at the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe.

One would normally finish here saying we have no clue if we will ever hear from Fleurety again and what direction they will take things in. Luckily the future seems assured and first taste of White Death ‘Lament of the Optimist’ sounds incredibly promising. I can’t wait myself and until then Inquietum’ is proving an essential soundtrack and totally deserving attention from any open mind, fractured or otherwise.

(8/10 Pete Woods)