Black Metal is very much a seasonal thing for me, I’m that sad act who ‘prefers it in the winter’. That said I kind of feel that those foundations have been shaken in the last few weeks. What with the global pandemic we’re facing it has made me evaluate this mindset. I realise now that Black Metal is so much more than the cold and frostbitten. It’s misery, sadness, atmosphere, meditation, and so much more. I’ve almost gained a newfound love for the genre and now see little to differentiate it from my Death Metal obsession.
Today we cast ourselves over to one of the pillars of the Black Metal world Finland. We speak of a band new to me a band called Förgjord, the band however have a pretty gleaming history. Formed way back in 1995 this unsung gem of the Black Metal community didn’t really see the light of day until there first demo in 2001 and again their debut full length didn’t surface until 2008 (a real shame when you consider their music). So we’re lucky enough to be graced by the band now, and in 2020 we are given their fifth full length record Laulu Kuolemasta, put out through Werewolf Records a pretty solid label when it comes to Black Metal.
The album begins with Laulu Murtuvan Niskan, a sort of ambient, sampled introduction leads into crisp frostbitten riffs that are Punk driven, muddy and vile, the way Black Metal should be. The production as we get into the thick of it is typically awful with the spewing traditional vocals clawing their way into an already crammed mix. I’m a big fan of this kind of production and tend to like this kind of sound on cassette over other formats just to boost that crisp tone. There is an air of Melodic Black Metal present in the band’s music however with memorable old school riffs that really take influence from the early days of Black and Heavy Metal. Ihtiriekko only goes to solidify this point, albeit in a namely Blackened manner. This is most certainly Finnish Black Metal but there is a twist, something different that punches through for Förgjord. The depressive, trudging sound of Kostonhetki is equally something that is so ‘trve’ Black Metal, with little to no frills this track is one of absolute purity and exceptional understanding of Black Metal. Kylmyys which closes the first half of the album introduces some really interesting experimental flare through keyboards and vile vocals that almost appear to be pulled from a Goregrind demo.
I feel like Förgjord really have a great understanding of how to keep an album interesting, even interludes such as Polkuni Päässä and Finlandia don’t feel at all out of place and actually serve well as breaks to an otherwise destructive void of sonic torment. As soon as we get back to the music however Kaksi Kiveä is there to greet us with teases of ferocity and obscure astral verses, truly atmospheric and strangely psychedelic at points. Coming back to Finlandia, this is a really interesting instrumental track. Noise heavy, weird and totally desolate, the band are a mess in terms of sound and I absolutely love it. This is exactly how you make extreme music innovative and relevant. The final track Veljessurma kind of brings everything together in one package of Blackened bile, no new water is tread however and it seems a sensible place to call things to a cease.
Laulu Kuolemasta is certainly engaging, different and awe inspiring. It’s refreshing to see such an Old School Black Metal sound brought anew. We saw some experimentation earlier this year with Neige Morte but Förgjord have something more to give. The experimentation on this record is so perfectly placed and used that it flows with a sort of hideous deformity. As someone who is currently on a bit of a Harsh Noise Wall/ Power Electronics/ Gorenoise binge at the moment I can really get behind the Avant-garde nature of Förgjord’s music. Don’t let this be a deterrent however, I emphasis the points of obscurity because that is what I’m drawn too, but make no mistake this is real Black Metal at its core.
(9/10 George Caley)