Sunday, 29 June 2014

We all follow the call, as Fjoergyns voice sounds in us

Here is another band, called Fjoergyn, that I had been aware of some time. I had given them a listen few years back and then somehow just buried the memory of it. I had liked what I heard. I recently re-searched for them on Spotify and it was worth it. They have been advertised as Avant-Garde Black Metal, while I agree with the Black Metal portion, I'm not so sure on the Avant-Garde one. Oh certainly they are unusual and unique. But I'd say they are more Progressive then Avant-Garde though how I'd exactly define the difference I am not too sure about. These guys aren't afraid to mix it, for example they've got a song on their album 'Jahreszeiten' called 'Wie Jahr Um Jahr', which seems to be built upon a lullaby in structure and it is beautiful to listen to (As it turns out there is a song on that album that uses a lullaby, but it's not this one). There is a lot of classical going on, some Viking Metal thrown in for good measure, it's epic as epic can be. We have our black metal screecher mixing it with a clean vocalists, flutes, acoustic guitars, lots of nature elements on display and all sung in the second best metal language available to humankind. One of the aspects that really drew me towards them was their album cover designs. Which I have to say are the least metal album covers I have seen, especially for a black metal band. Their light and full of rather pleasant colours. They've been around since 2003 in some kind of form, though to be honest there is only one guy left of that original line-up but for the most part it has contained two guys Martin L. who originally played the bass but now occupies the drum seat and Stephan L. who has done guitars, keyboards and all manners of different vocals. And for a long period they worked as a duo but currently they work as a five-piece with an extra vocalist and an extra guitar player. It had originally been conceived as Stephan as a solo project with the aim to get some orchestral compositions. But as with so many good things it got even better when he decided to add some guitars to it.

Ernte Im Herbst
Their first album came out in 2005 and it was called 'Ernte im Herbst', which roughly translates as 'Autumn Harvest'. But before I go into the music, just take your time and look at that album cover will you. It is beautiful. Something you can't say often about metal album covers let alone black metal album covers. It's beautiful, it's serene, it's tranquil. Like a Quantum Weather Butterfly that flaps it's wings to create a storm. I was half-expecting an album full of pan pipes with thunders in the background. Apparently this is a first of a trilogy regarding nature's revenge against humankind, which makes these guys metal eco-warriors a bit like Gojira. From the start we are lulled into this false sense of security in the form of sort of medieval orchestra with bells and suchlike then towards the end of the first song we get thrown into a black metal song with plenty of blastbeats. For a debut album it is really well crafted, well accomplished and really well thought out. The interplay between the vocalists provides a great contrast, as well as the acoustic instrumentation against electric. The symphonic element almost sounds genuine and not just something hammered with synths. In one song called 'Requiem', they manage to reinterpret Beethovens 'Ode To Joy'. The flowing melodies intertwine very well with the eco-viking brutality that comes with it. A lot of credit has to go to Stephan Löscher, he seems to be the mastermind behind Fjoergyn. His guitar work is excellent, his keyboard playing is excellent and his singing which goes from clean baritone to screaming, screeching and howling. In terms of vocal talents I'd say he ranks alongside Martin Wiese from Enid. He obviously has also been listening to a lot of Solefald and Vintersorg and has been modelling his singing to that style. The drum programming is really well done, so well done I never actually paid it any notice that they weren't real until their Last.FM profile pointed it out, though now that I listen to it again the double drums should have given it away but I suppose that is the good thing about good songwriting like the one that is one show here, you ignore like quibbles like that in order to enjoy the whole. Towards the middle we have an instrumental called 'Wenn Stürme Ruhen' which is another beautiful (I know I've been using that word a lot but it applies so often) I would pay good money to hear that song being performed by a proper orchestra. It comes with sort of renewed hope in mankind, though the song that follows quickly demolishes that. For a debut album it is almost as close to perfect as you could get.

Sade Et Masoch
In 2007 Fjoergyn released Sade Et Masoch. The title refers to Marquis De Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. The men who lent their names to Sadism and Masochism. Now the album cover has a little bit more of sinister feel to it. Presumably the apple is meant to represent the forbidden fruit and the maggots for what happened after it was bitten. Or it could be representing the apple that Snow White was given thus we also have the angel wings. Who knows. But it is another very simple, very elegant cover. On this one Martin decided to take his place on the throne behind the drumkit. And boy does it show. The production is again crystal clear, the musicianship has improved and the songwriting that was already great has become that little bit greater. The melodies are bigger. The ideas thrown about all hold together. There are more notes taken from the Falkenbach book of Viking Metal. There is even some groove metal thrown in for good measure on the song 'Katharsis'. Stephan still duels with himself on the vocal front, though not as much as on their debut and does it well. With plenty of Norwegian style black metal vocal screeching. There isn't a weak spot to find on either of these albums.

Then in 2009 they released the conclusion to their story called 'Jahreszeiten', which translates as 'Seasons'. This time we have a four piece playing. And now we're back to the elegant beautiful album cover. Again the cover completely betrays the content of the album, the only thing I could imagine it representing the end yet with the seeds of new beginnings floating off. The music follows the same game plan as the past two, but it's more fleshed out with those two added musicians. There is some great bass slapping going on which I always enjoy listening to, probably because of my love of Iron Maiden. Talking of Iron Maiden there are some great dual guitar playing going on on this album, with harmonized guitars that Dave, Janick and Adrian would be proud to play. Out of all three this album has to be my favourite, those two extra musicians added a lot to the sound even though the sound was already big, but they provide more oomph, more meat onto the juggernaut that is Fjoergyn. It all flows a little easier then on the previous releases, which you would only really notice when you listen to them in sequence. And my gods Martin proves what an excellent drummer he is on this album, with no unnecessary fills, knows when to show restraint and when to go full on ear canal attack. Some new idea's are explored for instance in the song 'Jera', Stephan decided that the best tactic was to narrate the song with orchestral music in the background and again that is a piece of music I would so love to hear with a full symphony providing the music. The main melody from 'Sturmzeit' is lifted from a German lullaby (Yes they exist) called 'Guter Mund, du gehst so stille'. Some Alt-Rock is attempted then aborted for a better song in 'Der Herbst ist da'. And some industrial is thrown in for good measure on 'Der Himmel fällt'. All in all it's a brilliant album, again they are unafraid to throw ideas about and see which ones stick. But the really great thing is that all of those ideas do stick.

Monument Ende
And now for their latest opus. 'Monument Ende', this was released in 2013. Now we have what could be construed as a classic metal album. Black with some greys, faded out trees and this beautiful red aureole. What it all means I have no idea, but it is another gorgeous album cover. On this one Martin decided to opt out of the lead vocals and hand in those reins to Marcelus, he had been playing the guitar for them for a while and does seem to be slightly more professional singer. Now Martin doesn't have to duel with himself. There is more death metal going on here then in the previous albums. They still follows this throw everything at the wall technique and somehow everything does. While they are obviously influenced by a lot of other bands,  music is mostly derived from classical compositions. Those orchestra moments are done so well it's nearly impossible to figure out whether Martin did it all on his computer or if he managed to hire a small symphony in order to flesh out his ideas. There aren't really any weak songs, only songs that could be said to be weaker then others, but even that doesn't do justice to how really really good the songwriting is on this album. In fact not just on this album but all of them. My personal favourite has to be 'Thanatos', it's big and majestic, it leaves a trail of destruction after listening to it. There are black metal riffs, classic heavy metal riffs, galloping bass playing, harmonized singing. In essence it's the perfect song to showcase their talents. It most definitely wouldn't sound out place on a latter day Rotting Christ album that is for sure. The story seems to be centering around a destruction of a town, there is a malevolence permeating the whole album. One of the songs is even called 'Der Monolog des Antichristen', occasionally you will hear the laughter of children being slowly faded away into the sound of burning. Thankfully there seems to be some kind of salvation towards the end of the album, though it doesn't quite feel like it. It took them four years to create this album and it is four years really well spent. I'll be very excited to hear the next one because I would love to hear how they are going to top this album. So far they've improved every time they added another musician so the next one should be something groundbreaking.

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