Album Review – Zerfall by Finsterforst (Napalm Records)

German blackened folk band Finsterforst return with their latest album, Zerfall, released on the 2nd of August via Napalm Records.

Zerfall is the Black Forest Metal band’s fifth studio album and is their most accomplished work to date. The 6 piece consists of Oliver Berlin on vocals with Tobias Weinreich on bass. Guitars are with David Schuldis and Simon Schillinger. Drums are with Cornelius Heck and keys are with Sebastian Scherrer.

Finsterforst create huge soundscapes designed to embody the beauty and mystery of the Black Forest. Making use of huge orchestral sections, choirs, blackened riffs, booming rhythms and black metal vocals alongside folkish melody, the band are quite a unique listen. Post black metal as you have never heard it before.

Zerfall

In Zerfall, Finsterforst have achieved something quite remarkable. A powerful and emotive journey through hypnotic sounds and punchy black metal that leaves you breathless with each twist and turn of the Forest path. There are only 5 tracks on Zerfall yet it weighs in at a hefty 80ish minutes long.

It doesn’t take much of 14 minute long opener Wut to make you realise you are embarking on a special journey. The booming drums, the clear riff and the choir vocals that join in are enticing. Enticement turns to excitement as the riff speeds up alongside the drums and a clear ringing lead guitar joins in. Excitement turns to ecstasy as it drops into a bassy riff and powerful black metal vocals jump in. It’s amazing but is only a shadow of what is to come. Huge symphonic sections bridge the heavy verses giving you a little touch of Dimmu Borgir almost.

Zerfall

The choir vocals return just before a drop into haunting melody with crystal clear ringing guitars and backing effects. This jumps into a folk acoustic melody before the lead jumps back in, keeping time with the acoustic melody as clean chanted vocals take over. It builds up to a huge atmospheric sound with clean shouted vocals this time. This slowly builds until we are launched into a furious black metal section with speed drumming and vicious vocals until the end. Wow. That’s how you start an album. It never waned from here either with each track bringing exciting twists and turns yet in a managed way that the song never feels muddied or confused. Only ever exciting.

The title track, Zerfall, has huge booming drums, choir vocals and a powerful lead before dropping into a bass led, acoustic verse with deep booming vocals before the chorus jumps up on pace and tone and brings gang vocals in for the catchiest of choruses. It also packs a fantastic solo and massive orchestral sections. Fluch Des Seines leans heavily on choir vocals as choruses and bridges. The tone is a little deeper but we also get a glorious accordion (I think) solo to brighten the gloomy start. The power chords and thunderous drums are insane. As we progress we hit melodic slow downs, blazing leads, gentle orchestral atmospheric sounds before heading into pure forceful black metal.

The penultimate track is called Weltenbrand and is another banger with the full range of Finsterforst on show. Punchy riffs, blazing leads and powerful drums create a hard hitting soundscape while choirs sit over the top. Vocals jump from folk gang vocals to pure black metal at will with a great crowd involving “hey” section. All this brilliance and then Ecco Homo happens. A 36 minute (yep, you read that right) epic. A bands Magnum Opus if they get it right and they do. It is a phenomenal piece of work and holds your interest throughout, almost feeling like it stops too soon. Based on everything said so far, you know what to expect. Huge atmospherics, transitions between heavier black metal focused sections to gentler brooding sections to elevating folk melody. Huge choirs, big solos and bigger riffs.

It is a difficult song to explain and really has to be experienced. It feels a bit more like an adventure. A journey. Finsterforst perfectly capture your imagination and transport you to a mystical forest leaving the listener breathless and desperate for more. A truly amazing song to end a truly amazing album. Zerfall is one of the most accomplished folk/metal albums ever released and is certainly their biggest and best to date. An album that deserves to be heard and to have praise lavished on it for years to come. Remarkable.

Zerfall is out now on all the usual streaming platforms. You can also grab yourself a copy from all sorts of places and in multiple formats from here.

Finsterforst Links

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Zerfall by Finsterforst (Napalm Records)
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