I know of Fluisteraars by reputation but more thanks to their excellent contribution to a split with Turia in 2018 called “De Oord”. Stormy, bleak and out of the forest, its atmosphere made me think I was listening to a Dutch version of Fen. “De Oord” was their last release prior to this one, their third full album.

Here to begin is a mixture of dark and fiery black metal, delivered at breakneck speed, with intermediate passages of melancholy majesty. The theme of “Bloem” (Flower) is designed to “conjure old and reimagined folktales and legends in which flowers act as both symbols for birth and regeneration as well as crippling decay”. So far I had only detected decay. “Nasleep” (Aftermath), the second of the five pieces on this album, has a withering air of decadence and decay, reinforced by an interesting sample of vocal suffering. The stretched out riff lingers in the grey and filthy sky. That’s my interpretation, which somewhat cuts across the published description of the “romantic naturalism” and testimony to a natural landscape of the Dutch forest where the band come from. The latter part of “Nasleep” perhaps does pay homage to this with its intense natural order. “Eeuwige Ram” starts like a metal folk rhythm, a swaying rhythm and a vocal line which draw comparison with Moonsorrow. We’ve gone from black metal to gloomy folk metal. On it trudges, and to be honest once the scene was set we didn’t get any further and it was a long fade out. “Vlek” (Stain) returns to the fiery black metal of the opening track “Tere Muur”. It’s straightforward, driving forward with a heralding guitar for four minutes before the atmosphere shifts to a more measured scene with hints of an orchestra in the background. We are taken away into, I guess, a majestic scene, but although it seeks to be expansive, it seems to be quite static. “Maanruïne” has a fiery pagan feel to start, but takes time to develop. There is an intriguing trumpet interlude which is neatly replicated into the next passage. There are definite shades of Moonsorrow now as a chorus strikes up to match the majestic strain. Now I can imagine being in the woods by the camp fire.

This album didn’t blow me away as Fluisteraar’s part of “De Oord” had done. “Bloem” is atmospheric but other than at odd moments for me largely lacked spirit or adventure.

(6/10 Andrew Doherty)