Els Sepulcres Blancs (The White Tombs) is Foscor’s new album and the second volume of what is planned to be a trilogy inspired by the fin de siècle artistic movement. Fin de siècle is French for “end of the century”, and usually the term is used to refer to art that came into existence around the end of the nineteenth century. In general, it thematized decadence and a felt cultural downfall, the perceived end of an epoch.
What has all of that got to do with metal? Well, doesn’t “cultural downfall” and “end of an epoch” relate to your reality? History is always moving in circles, and we live in end times, too. And that’s certainly a subject with many a metal band. In fact, we have change awaiting us on a much grander, inconceivable scale. Therefore, the band’s chosen theme is not necessarily a form of nostalgia, it makes sense from today’s perspective. Also, Foscor (engl. Darkness) are from Barcelona, and fin de siècle architecture, its ornamentation and organic forms, are a prominent element in their hometown’s picture.
As you might have guessed by now if you didn’t know already, Foscor are a rather special band in the metal universe, and that’s because they are doing their own thing. Insisting on your roots in a globalized world, with globalized cities, globalized culture, food and music, is a stubborn move, but it is also authentic and against the stream. And there is globalization in metal as well. That’s why you can find a Viking ship featured on the cover of a metal band from California. Countless bands reference northern mythology today without having any connection to it. I don’t like that much. I like bands who try to add something of their own to the metal template. And Foscor are definitely doing that.
Apart from being true to their roots, progression is another thing that Foscor do well. Since their inception about 15 years ago they have completely changed their sound. While they played second wave black metal in their beginnings, today, their sound is closer to the post and progressive spectrum of metal, and not that easily categorized. The band has grown with the people in it, they have personalized their music and adapted it to fit themselves.
If you make music inspired by your roots, it follows that your lyrics are in your native language. Their chosen language of expression, Catalan, is one of the defining things in Foscor’s music. Sure, English lyrics would have been more accessible, would have reached wider audiences, but it’s only consequent that they’ve decided against English. Having said that, I would have appreciated an English translation of the lyrics, because automated translation sucks, especially for smaller languages. So, while the vocals are clean, and the lyrics obviously important, I can’t say much about them, and that’s a shame, because I certainly don’t lack interest.
Els Sepulcres Blancs is best classified as progressive or atmospheric metal. What primarily shines through the music is a deeply rooted melancholia paired with inertia. Both sentiments fit the fin de siècle theme well, as do the intricate and layered soundscapes. However, what I like most about the album is that you can hear the band’s black metal roots. In that way, they are staying true to themselves. Here and there, for example, there is a visceral snarl, disrupting the dreamy vocals, saying don’t push me too far. But my favourite instrument in that regard are the drums, because this is where the above-mentioned stubbornness and black metal origins are best preserved. I was impressed by the drumming and delighted to read that Foscor’s drummer Jordi F. will be playing drums for Markov Soroka’s Tchornobog on their upcoming European tour.
If you now fancy a taste of the music, Cel Rogent is a good starting point to hear frenzied double kick drumming paired with dreamy, clean vocals and atmospheric guitars sounds.