Review Summary: With their latest release, Foscor fully appreciate what a more alternative musical direction can do. It may not be for everyone, but Foscor's haunting charms are still present.
Over time Foscor has become one of the more intriguing European groups to emerge from the atmospheric black metal field. The Catalonian group have stretched from a raw, menacing sound to something clearly more inspired by intricate melodies and melancholic vocal serenades, an effective change in musical direction which resulted in arguably the band's finest full-length effort, 2017's excellent Les irreals Visions
. It may have divided the fanbase a little and given a certain portion of Season of Mist's black metal fanbase further cause to feel sick, but it also allowed Foscor's more open musical ideas room to breathe and develop.
It seems that latest album Els Sepulchres Blancs
has gone the way of Alcest's 2014 record, Shelter
, where Neige decided to do away with the heavier metal leanings of previous albums in favour of a fresher, more delicate style devoid of any abrasion and certainly indulging in shoegaze's finest harmonies. In spite of the fact that Foscor are still featuring pacier rhythms and the odd harsh rasp courtesy of frontman Fiar, everything about the band's musical input now seems more intricate and focused on the art of the music as opposed to its performance. Opener “Laments” is as hauntingly beautiful as its title impresses upon the listener, dwindling melodies smoothing over the light guitar work and steady drum beats as Fiar gently serenades his vocal work over the shroud of atmospheric musical prowess. “Elc Colors del Silenci” almost aims for an alternative rock style, such is the accessibility of its performance, where the guitar work focuses on memorable rhythms and gentle solos, Fiar as always soaring to the forefront and providing a dreamy soundscape as a result.
It does indeed feel like something is missing however, and towards the end of the album the listener will begin to miss Foscor's heavier focus. Even Les Irreals Visions
had its moments of pressing despair, the bursts of musical menace, although brief, catapulting the instrumentation to an admirable climax. The same cannot be said for Els Sepulchres Blancs
, where even at its heaviest, Fiar seems to have taken a step back and develops a raspy whisper in “Malson”, the closest to harsh vocal work Foscor gets in this latest effort. That said, there are moments where songs can really move
and its with these moments that the band hit the notes just right. “Secrets” indulges in doomier rhythms and even the vocal work refrains from soaring with a serenade. The musicianship is heavier not only because of this but also its notably darker tones, vocalist Fiar choosing to limit his soaring cleans in favour of a more morose ululation. “Cancó de Mort” is perhaps this album's “Altars”, where even at its most accessible the darker overtones take centre stage, shadowing any unnecessary Shoegaze elements which threaten to breka through the already atmospheric backdrop.
Though these moments are few and far between (more so than in any of Foscor's previous full-lengths), they do demonstrate the band's choice to explore a style which, whilst not exactly new, is still appreciated by the fanbase. Unfortunately, Els Sepulchres Blancs
may go on to be one of Foscor's more forgettable releases, but its musical intentions are clear. It's a daring leap to a new musical direction, but one which will hopefully see the band reap rewards.