Finsterforst - _Mach Dich Frei_
(Napalm Records, 2015)
by: Julia Semprich (10 out of 10)
Do you like the mystic feeling of standing in the middle of a dense forest at dusk or dawn with wafts of mist and the sounds of nature surrounding you? Finsterforst will bring this atmosphere right into your living room. The band's name is a more poetical German expression for the Black Forest, which is where these seven exceptional musicians come from. On their homepage they insist that they play Black Forest metal, and the listener is wise to be open to their individual style, since it hardly fits into only one metal genre.

The new album _Mach Dich Frei_ (roughly translated to "Set Yourself Free") is a continuation and perfection of Finsterforst's previous album _Rastlos_ ("Restless"). The intro is aptly called "Abfahrt" ("Departure") and immerses the listener in a mystic ambiance, but will certainly not prepare for the bombastic beginning of "Schicksals End'" ("Fate's End"). Apart from the intro and shorter instrumental tracks, Finsterforst presents epically long songs with ample musical variation while still preserving a harmonious album.

The last track, "Finsterforst", provides the listener with almost 24 minutes of gloomy, bombastic, atmospheric metal. One moment the guitars and guttural vocals, often combined with fanfares, create a dark atmosphere; the next, we listen to the delicate sound of a flute. Instrumental passages give way to a choir, vocals are guttural and clear, high and low, guitars provide aggressive riffs and soft solos.

Every song is unpredictable, with sudden breaks and changes in tempi. In addition to using a greater variety of instruments on this album, Finsterforst still kept their trademark sound of an accordion, which seems to mingle effortlessly with the other instruments. Yet, despite all this diversity, Finsterforst manage to keep up the tension in each of their songs. Due to this complexity in sound and composition, listening to _Mach Dich Frei_ never gets boring, and even the twentieth repetition might reveal some details you've never noticed before (the cowbell in "Schicksals End'" is still my favorite).

The lyrics are as powerful as the music, but seem to be more rebellious and time-critical compared to previous albums. For non-German speakers, Finsterforst provided a short summary of each song in their booklet.

People who had hoped that the band would go back to their more folky roots will be disappointed in this album. Don't expect any catchy melodies or sing-along tunes in Finsterforst's latest release. However, if you like the challenge of exceptionally long tracks offering atmospheric, gloomy metal with lots of variation in style and instruments, then _Mach Dich Frei_ might be the right choice for you.


(article published 3/3/2015)

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