Metal very much can be looked at like beer. You have those folks who have their one or two beers, drink them for life, and don’t want to hear about people brewing things a different way, new tastes, or new concepts. Beer is one thing, and that’s it. Then you have you more adventurous types who like to try all kinds of new craft brews, enjoy the colors and the tastes, want to always have something new and exciting in the fridge and have an open way of thinking about the beverage.
For some people, metal always will be about the riff or the brutality, a certain thing that must fit into a certain mold, otherwise it isn’t metal at all. Then there are those who like when bands go off in all kinds of different directions, throw bizarre spices into their concoction, and really stretch the field of metal to make it more expansive and, as a result, able to survive well into the future because the genre doesn’t have to adhere to a certain pattern. Bands like this are akin to, say, Dogfish Head’s carrot-based, served-warm brew Hot Thoup, where you first want to asks loudly, “Is this even beer?!” before settling in, trying it on and realizing you’re enjoying an imaginative, one-of-a-kind beverage that your Budweiser drinker is probably too blocked by walls and doors to ever consider. Metal can be that way, too.
Fyrnask and Lustre really could not be more different from each other sonically, but each operates within the parameters of metal in exciting and innovative ways, carving out a section of their own but also digging tunnels well past metal to reach other areas. They generally aren’t on the tip of the tongue of most metal fans (yet, anyway) but already have a warm circle of followers in the underground and have made music that has captured the hearts and minds of listeners everywhere. Certainly if you played these groups, and their new records, for fans at the summer’s annual meathead-driven Mayhem fest, dudes would have way too much testosterone to even consider what these bands bring to the table. They’re also probably drunk on some shitty mass-produced swill. But for those who put more thought into metal and want their experiences to be enriching and unpredictable, each band very easily should fulfill again and again.
One thing each band does have in common is they are made up of just one member. Germany’s Fyrnask is the project of Fyrnd, whose black metal leanings make this the heaviest of the two bands by far, but it isn’t savagery for the sake of it. There is plenty of atmosphere, folk-like, woodsy instrumentation that might you feel like you’re baking in front of a campfire in the middle of nowhere, and passion you can feel. “Eldir Nott” is the follow-up to 2011’s magnificent “Bluostar,” and it manages to push the creativity and power to an even higher level. Sweden’s Lustre is the dream of Nachzeit, and he has offered up four full-length offerings since the project’s conception, each acting as a dream-state step into a fantasy land, where you encounter strange creatures, odd land masses, and fogs that soothe and calm as much as obscure your vision. It’s not heavy, pulsating music by any means, but if you’ve followed the life of the project all the way up to new “Wonder, certainly you get the crossover appeal.
We’ll start with Fyrnask and their astonishing new record, that’s grisly and furious, but also colorful and wondrous. Fyrnd really explores the capability of this project on Eldir Nott,” an eight-track, 50-minute record that’s a mix of dark, storming epics and ambient passages that tie together each explosive chapter. The obviously titled “Intro” is what you expect it to be, the door opener into the record that begins to light the pyres so you can see the start of the maze. “Vigil” then ignites, with pure black metal power, lush atmosphere, and the feeling the sky is opening up. The vocals go from shrieky to a rumbly growl, and right before the concluding carnage that caps off the song, a pastoral-like section sweeps in to establish the misleading calm. “Jarðeldr” is a 12-minute-plus journey, beginning with weird, windy noises before heathen-like hammering and sheer power is ushered in to blacken everything. As one can expect from this project, the tempos and moods go back and forth from oppressively dark to hope-filled light, but the most impactful moments of the song come with the harsh, shout-filled vocals and the penetrating drone that feels like a hole is being burned into the middle of the forest.
“Suoannas Sedir” is another interlude, this one filled with thick drone and acoustic splashes, and that takes you into “Saltrian,” one of the most molten and aggressive songs in this project’s catalog, a total firestorm of power and audio violence. Shrieks rain down, the metallic overtures pulverize, and the clubbing power eventually drowns out into a swirl, as it’s sucked into a frozen vortex, ripping you into the heart of a time warp. “Samas Stigr” blows more frosty sentiment into the record, making the transition into “Síaiða,” a song with a doomy beginning but eventually chugs mightily. Fyrnd unleashes more hellacious screams, haunting dulcimer (at least it sounds like dulcimer) creates a sense of eeriness, and the song becomes unhinged at the end, unleashing hell. The closing instrumental “Sut” whirs, chimes, and drones, letting the album’s spirit pass into the night, looking for another soul to chill.
Another awesome creation from Fyrnask, two albums into a promising run with only a gaping-wide future in sight. “Eldir Nott” is another stunning jewel in this project’s crown, a record that separates itself from the brilliant “Bluostar” but stands alongside it as a powerful foundation.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fyrnask/114847128596890
To buy the album, go here: http://templeoftorturous.com/shop/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.templeoftorturous.com/
“Wonder” is one. It’s the fourth Lustre full-length and another in a line of records that captures an atmosphere that’s alien and odd. The music on “Wonder” feels a lot like a soundtrack to a weird, questionably shot sci-fi movie from the ‘80s, one that may seem a little strange on the surface but that gets into your blood and gives you weird feelings. Opener “Moonlit Meadow” is aptly named, as the keys shimmer and a fantasy dreamstate stretches out before you. You can hear some guitar growl behind the blanket of sound, with detached shrieks floating around feeling kind of Gollum-esque. The music achieves a trance state and should have your mind existing elsewhere once the song trickles out. “Green Worlds” has a chimey, watery introduction, and the keyboard line slips in and settles as the main melody. The song has a chambery feel to it, and it could exist on any plane of existence, in any era, and still be able to capture your imagination.
“A Summer Night” might make you think of the days recently expired, especially as night greets us earlier and the cold air starts to move in. Keys woosh, drums pitter patter over the melody, and the music is like something that could be bubbling in the back of a strange lab somewhere, ready to take over your mind.There are minimal vocals that sound like ghosts from ages past reaching back to modern times to tell their tales, trying to live again through you. Closer “Petricher” pulls back the primary melody line from the record, tying everything on this 37-minute album together nicely, and the bubbling, foggy transmission settles over, rises here and there, and eventually slips away, leaving you a wealth of new ideas and old dreams to examine and absorb.
Lustre really can’t be considered a purely metal project at all, as this music really just travels on the outer edges of the genre. The music is full of murky blues and greens, and it’s a nice soundtrack to summer subsiding and fall arriving. “Wonder” won’t let you thrash and bleed out all of your energy, but it might help level you and get a hold of your anxieties. That might not seem brutal, but that’s kind of the point. Metal can be many things, and Lustre help ensure that there are no such thing as limits.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/lustresweden
To buy the album, go here: http://www.nordvis.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=120
For more on the label, go here: http://www.nordvis.com/