By John Morrow
Let’s get one thing out of the way – if you’re not a fan of necro, lo-fi black metal with minimal production values and bloodthirsty intent, turn away immediately and don’t look back. Finland’s Förgjord, much like their brethren in Behexen and Horna, started up in the mid-90’s when the infamous second wave of black metal was already retreating back to the shadows and bands with more accessible versions of the genre like Dimmu Borgir would go on to actual careers and financial reward. With only a couple of demos recorded since that time, Förgjord only really began their recorded career in 2008 with the turbulent ‘Ajasta Ikuisuuteen’ and have found a solid fan-base and their own path over the following three records.
‘Laulu Kuolemasta’ (which translates to ‘song about death’) is a throwback to that vibrant second wave sound that revels in all the requisite personality and nihilism that those artists made famous. One of the instigating factors of the Norwegian uprising was a reaction to how popular and trendy death metal had become at the time, so the poor production quality, trebly guitars, flat drums, shrieked vocals, and lyrical themes of Satanism, Scandinavian folklore, and outright hatred were their way of telling society that they were a different breed that valued extremity, darkness, and the rejection of all things Western. With the evolution of metal in general since then, we have found ourselves very much in the same situation where there is a lot of sterility in popular bands, so this album hits where it hurts and rightly so.
The production is filthy and raw, unsettling and absolutely perfect for the music. The vocals are deep in the mix and distorted beyond any comfort level, and even if you don’t understand Finnish (not that you would be able to discern the lyrics having them in front of you anyway), the atmosphere created by Prokrustes Thanatos is one of evil and demonic hatred. Valgrinder handles both bass and guitars, the bass creating a weaving, serpentine spine and the guitars riddled with treble intensity and disquieting violence. The drums are actually quite well-recorded and have considerable weight, drummer BLK a master blaster that knows how to use his kit to accentuate all the peaks and valleys.
This is more of a complete album/collection of songs that should be consumed in one sitting, each of the tracks an individual powerhouse but all adding to one big fist to the face (without having it be a traditional concept album). As the title implies, all the songs deal with the subject of death with all its many faces and outcomes, and the darkness is palpable. Tracks that do stand out are ‘Ihtiriekko’, ‘Kylmyys’, and the epic closer ‘Veljessurma’, but all eight full songs (two of the ten here are ambient interludes, and both are creepy and icy) are fully-formed blasts of oily blackness, and most are fleshed out with (non-cheesy) acoustic passages and doom-laden landscapes that add to the overall bleakness by giving areas of light to make the darker corridors that much more dark.
Fans of old-school black metal will have much to savour with ‘Laulu Kuolemasta’, which gives props to the artists and aesthetics of the original form whilst still having an absolutely unique and impactful voice of its own. It is certainly the most powerful and interesting album that Förgjord have released thus far, and it will no doubt make many end-of-year lists and land up in extreme music playlists far and wide.
- ‘Laulu Kuolemasta’ is released on Friday (26 June). You can get your copy HERE.
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