Review Summary: Ding dong mother f*cker............ding dong
Up until yesterday the word Fjoergyn meant nothing to me. Today this same word translates into my new favorite band. Coming across the band via a recommendation by an old member of the sputnik brotherhood as well as a tour date ad sponsoring Alcest and The Vision Bleak, I pursued this German based outfit on myspace. A few moments later I ended up acquiring their brand new album Jahreszeiten, highly impressed by the sample track on myspace. For a lack of a better word, Fjoergyn’s sound is wholly unique, while at the same time being highly influenced by some of the metal genre’s heavyweights. Mirrorthrone. Solefald. Dissection. Summoning. Lacrimosa. Falkenbach. These are the bands that help shape up Fjoergyn’s adventurous sound through a melting pot of classical music, epic Scandinavian folk, melodic black metal and avant-garde.
Coming in at nine tracks and nearly fifty four minutes of material, Jahreszeiten is composed in a completely unorthodox manner. Blending Mirrorthrone’s forward thinking neo-classical meets black metal approach with Falkenbach’s epic Norse influenced Viking sound, Lacrimosa’s classical aesthetic, Summoning’s flute based Tolkien sound, Dissection’s blistering melo black/death riffs, and Solefald’s penchant for genre splicing mutation, Jahreszeiten is quite the spectacle to behold. However, black metal purists if not already turned off by the Dissection and Lacrimosa comparisons will find little to enjoy about this record as the keyboards/piano provide a large portion of the band’s signature sound.
Jahreszeiten is the band’s third full length and supposedly the closing chapter of a trilogy based on Nature’s revenge against mankind. But since the lyrics are written and performed in the German language, this added level of pretension doesn’t significantly impact the rest of the music, for better or worse. In terms of individual performances, Fjoergyn deliver on all counts with spit polished production values and varied songwriting skills to boot.
Stephan is the band’s vocalist as well as the keyboardist and second guitarist. Characterized between Tillo Wolff esque baritone clean vocals, Vladimir Cochet like whispered screaming and blackened death growling, Fjoergyn’s agenda is certainly more developed than many other bands. Also some choir vocals are sprinkled in from time to time which expands the formula a bit more. The screams and growls are well executed, especially in the more aggressive portions of the album but the key point of interest lies in the singing. Some people will love his singing and some people will hate in. As in the case of Arcturus and Solefald, many of the vocally unimpressed listeners seem to get past the singing and appreciate the music for what it is so I don’t expect that notion to change too much here even with a language barrier.
Stephan’s second position as the band’s electronic expert is debatably the highest point of the record. Fluid in dynamics, Stephan seamlessly balances the aggressive/melodic template with highly elaborate instrumentals consisting of rhythmic piano runs, symphonic keyboards and what appear to be flutes and string instruments, and acoustic guitars. My only complaint is that at times the keyboards sound too cheery, resembling the backing music to The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. Technically, that’s not a bad thing really. Now I have a perfect CD to jam to while trying to hook a gargantuan fish in the fishing pond.
Guitars resemble the Storm Of The Light’s Bane playbook at times, specifically the speedier sections where the riffs really begin to cut through the speakers. Some of the melodies wouldn’t sound out of place either. At other times, crunchy power chords are brought in to add a heavier, more concise sound which results in a lot of catchy headbangable rhythms. Stephan and Daniel don’t really pull anything fancy (sans the acoustic guitars and flashy soloing) but they do a pretty good job in their respective positions.
On to the rhythm section now. Drumming is tight thanks to a solid performance from Martin. With an album as full of tempo changes and stop-start rhythms as this, you need a technical drummer that can handle any speed. And that’s what he does. Blasting furiously at one moment and lending soft percussion to a symphonic passage at the next, Matrin demonstrates his talent well. Just imagine if he fell asleep at the kit and went through some rapid fire gravity blasts during a flute solo. The bass on the other hand is rather disappointing. Maybe it’s just the extremely ***ty speakers I’ve been using for so long that prevents me from getting fully into an album but unfortunately, this album suffers from “where’s the bass” syndrome.
Lack of bass, dominating keyboards, and complex vocals aside, Jahreszeiten is a mostly consistent album that masterfully blends powerful songwriting with technicality. What you’ll find here is nine tracks of epic metal perfect for forest raids, hunting bears and drinking mead to. Fans of pagan metal, avant garde, black metal, classical, and folk rock should all find something to like here.