The Firstborn - _The Unclenching of Fists_
(ProCon Media, 2005)
by: Pedro Azevedo (7.5 out of 10)
Dealing with Tantric Buddhism and based on the Tibetan "Book of the Dead", _The Unclenching of Fists_ opens with a mixture of extreme metal -- somewhere between black and death -- and an unusual horn-like sound. If anything can be said with a considerable degree of certainty about The Firstborn at this stage of their career, it is that they are blazing their own trail rather than following anyone else's lead. Trouble is, that's where problems begin to arise when trying to say more about The Firstborn's current work, such is its apparent complexity. It isn't easy to accurately describe the mixture of black, death and, I guess, heavy metal that compounds The Firstborn's sound -- let alone getting into much detail about the Eastern influences this Portuguese band imbues it with. I can only superficially say that these Eastern touches are occasionally a bit Nile-ish, as a very general indication of what they can sound like. Sometimes the music will pick up speed and/or aggression, or go into an atmospheric section, or else into a slower riff; there aren't any clearly defined boundaries to pigeonhole their sound, which will please some listeners and frustrate others. There's a considerable variety of instruments, effects and arrangements; there's some chanting, and vocal approaches to fit every style on display; there is just so much to digest in this hour long album that it would be pointless to try to describe it all in detail.

Compared to their rather weak and derivative early days under the name Firstborn Evil, the band has certainly progressed in leaps and bounds over the years. The music sounds much more developed and mature, though on several occasions it seems like too much may have been thrown into this particular pot. Most listeners will probably find a number of passages in the album they will really like, and others they may end up skipping; such is the diverse nature of _The Unclenching of Fists_, and awarding it a mark out of 10 is a rather difficult task. If you manage to really connect with the mystical voyage represented on this album, then all the elements will surely converge and add an extra dimension to the music. However, the lack of real impact due to an unremarkable production job and the uneven and somewhat long-winded nature of the album may result in a rather bumpy ride -- one that will have plenty of nice and original-sounding spots, but overall fail to materialize into anything transcendental. If you have a taste for all things avantgarde and believe in karma however, then there is plenty here to justify giving _The Unclenching of Fists_ at least a few thorough listens.


(article published 24/5/2005)

6/15/2009 Q Kalis 8 The Firstborn - The Noble Search
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