posted on 12/2011 By:
“The insect, in a frightening tour de force of adaptability, proved conclusively that he could endure where man would ultimately fail.” This is a line uttered by a documentary-style narrator on the track “The Vermillion Trail”, and it encapsulates the very nature of Farsot’s latest album. The German band has adapted their sound since 2004, combining various sonic elements and harnessing dissonant beauty to create their finest material yet. Farsot serves up their black metal frostbitten and folk-tinged with Insects, their most progressive, cohesive, and compelling release to date. There are no showy keyboard flourishes or female vocals this time around, instead, Insects triumphs without needing any frills.
A picture of soaked earth and the creeping creatures within is painted by the instrumental performances far more than the vocals. The sound itself is superb, but the lyrics are nearly impossible to distinguish, and Farsot’s overall album philosophy is somewhat lost due to a failure to communicate its themes. Nevertheless, Insects is still profound, although it remains conceptually vague.
With names like 3818.w and 10.XIXt, it can be hard to refer to each member by name, so instead I will take the easy way out and focus solely on the music without the use of monikers. The opening track, “Like Flakes of Rust”, begins somewhat predictably with the sound of humming insects, and then explodes into a raging and focused riff. The vocals begin as a low drone before evolving into raw and mid-range growls. As previously mentioned, the band intermittently places narrative tracks over the pulsing and aggressive instrumental work, which creates a stunning contrast.
“Empyrean” is a dense and moderately paced piece that gathers most of its strength from visceral vocals and wall-of-sound guitar work. Clocking in two seconds short of ten minutes, the track has plenty of time to shift genre and tone, shifting from blackened doom to neo-folk and the many sounds between. A few minutes before the end of the song, a passage of low chanted vocals are broken by one of the best screams I’ve ever heard, and it serves as a pinnacle for “Empyrean”. In its last moments, the guitars relax into clean picking and strumming, allowing the drums to control the momentum before the conclusive fill is executed and the final chord is played. It’s a stand out track, not only for its length, but for its superb composition.
Insects takes a turn for the intensely darkened and intricate with “7”, one of two instrumental tracks on the record. It’s a mellow and melancholy reprieve from the controlled chaos of the previous material, and it flows beautifully into the doomy beginning of “Adamantine Chains”, a slowly burning piece that showcases Farsot’s mastery of dynamics and mood. Followed by the similarly composed “The Vermillion Trail”, the album halts a bit, briefly falling victim to a plodding pace. The music itself is still excellent, it just loses some of its power when two analogous songs are placed one right after the other.
This album is a unique addition to any black metal collection, and beyond the blast beats and bloodcurdling vocals, there is an undeniable and inescapable sense of groove that few bands in this genre can lay claim to. Closing with the atmospheric and desolate instrumental “Somnolent”, Farsot offers some of their most chilling and lovely melodies of the album, leaving the listener feeling somber, yet sated.
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