Fjoergyn – Jahreszeiten – 5/5
Going in already a fan, I had always noted that they always had an odd sense of something different about their folk/Viking combination; a willing to somehow dabble with neo-folk and more bombastic moonsorrow-like epic bombastic passages. It is my delight to discover that here they really play on that, going beyond their past efforts to produce an avant-garde and progressive piece that will relentlessly transform for disquieted folk/doom, to epic bombastic aggression, to neo-folk violin-heavy passages to a blackened fury, but throughout all these rapid changes, amidst the crushingly heavy guitars and delicate acoustic passages, comes the unbelievably addictive melodies.
The vocals vary beautifully from that ‘clean-growl’ utilised before, here feeling icy and rawer than ever before, still singing entirely in German. He dominates the top layer of this album, constantly changing between clean whispers, yells, and growls with an almost limitless versatility lending itself to the manner in which the tracks progress throughout their length. The guitar work also manages to live up to their past efforts, the bass making a notable contribution, heard providing the backing for the other guitars. Whilst the rhythm spends most of its time providing an aggressive crunch in the form of chords, it is the lead that excels here; so much more than simple riffs, the frequently clean, almost sprucy or jazzy tone meandering melodically throughout the course of the album, providing any number of interstitial layers and additional draw.
The drums are raw and with plenty of bite, aggressively attacking, fighting to be heard over the cacophony of the instrumentation, readily easing into the back to keep the beat for calmer passages, assisting in the steady build-up into the crescendo. It is, however, the keyboards that feel notably different; no longer even feeling like keyboards but instead mimicking a whole host of folk-like instruments, from violins, flutes, xylophones and piano, truly providing an endless variety to the proceedings, varying multiple times within each track to not overload it, but create a constant source of intrigue. There honestly isn’t a single misstep made here; each instrument has their role to play and they perform superbly, the composition is complex and progressive whilst never feeling obscure and as each track opens you are struck by a feeling of awe of the overwhelming epic melody of the track at hand, constantly feeling as though they are bettering what came immediately before it.
Compositionally, they show more willing to stretch to the boundaries of the genre, providing a far greater number of ambient passages interspersed with aggressive crunching chords and icy tremolo riffs. Everything about this albums conception feels so epic in scale, so grand in the manner the trumpets sound off and the drums collide, the rawer production allowing you to clearly hear every pulsating guitar note, every subtle piano line and every flute backing; you could take the best track from all their past works, and be lucky to have it stand up to anything presented here – and their past albums were both excellent releases in their own right. Now if that’s not progress then I’m struggling to think what is. This is a very possible contestant for my favourite release this year.
Highlights: Sturmzeit, Am Ende Der Welt, Ich bin der Frost