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Finsterforst: Rastlos

This is one of those albums that people will describe using words like "epic" or "ambitious." I think those words work well enough, but I confess that I don't always understand precisely what they mean. For the most part, we seem to apply "epic" to works that treat folkloristic themes, ideas that stem from a long ago time, a time of warriors and journeys and oral tales. In that sense, I have no problem describing this work as epic in its scope and even successful in its execution. I do not think, however, that this album takes this kind of metal in new directions, nor does it surprise me very often. The best songs on the album are those like "Stirbt zulezt" that make strong use of wordless choruses, sounds that audiences may sing along with effortlessly. The vocals on such tracks are rich and deep, even a little melancholy. I felt like I was listening to warriors coming home from battle, singing not only to their victories, but also lamenting the inevitable losses, not only of personnel, but also of aspects of their humanity. I also liked the occasional use of natural sounds at the beginning of tracks like "Rast." I think listeners will enjoy the soft bird sounds, including that of a cuckoo, on that track. "Rast," or rest, serves as a nice contrast to "rastlos" or restless and gives listeners a well-deserved break after all the traveling through dark and mysterious sonic soundscapes.

I was less impressed with the tracks that stirred in components borrowed from death metal. I love death metal, but I don't think that it works particularly well as a garnish. This is because death metal usually insists on sticking to itself, denying a place to other styles, especially those that are melodic and accessible. To my ears, Finsterforst occasionally blends things too much, asking listeners to follow them into too many sounds. Normally, I like the variety, but I found the return to melody to be a kind of letdown. These guys are so good at creating melodies and pleasing chord changes that they ought to stick with that. The harsh vocals and the death-inspired guitar parts were somewhat distracting. My only other quibble with this album is that many of the songs are simply too long. The closing track, for example, clocks in at over 22 minutes, whereas other tracks press us toward 15 minutes. Some listeners may describe the length of such tracks as "epic," but length doesn't necessarily lend itself to epic. Critics complained back in Milton's day that Paradise Lost was too long. Ambition may be had in shorter forms.

One more thought--the album cover on this one is quite striking. I love the seemingly old man, resting on his cane, looking toward a series of endless mountains, contemplating what lies ahead. Life's journey, as always, feels long.

Track Listing:
1. Nichts als Asche
2. Fremd
3. Am Scheideweg
4. Stirbt zuletzt
5. Ein Lichtschein
6. Rast
7. Flammenrausch

Added: November 3rd 2012
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2470
Language: english

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