The press notes for this French black metal band mention the strange, underground terror of Les Legions Noires as part of their heritage. Not quite; that’s a comparison better suited for atmospheric and boundary-straining countrymen like Deathspell Omega or Blut Aus Nord. I’d place Fhoi Myore – named for a tribe of frost giants from Michael Moorcock’s fantasy novels – more in the DBSM/Drudkh/Burzum camp, as they straddle the line between shrill, slicing black metal and lovely melancholy.
The cover art says it all – a wistful depiction of a bleak, forbidding yet still beautiful landscape, rendered in black and white just like Varg’s first few releases. And after we start with a lilting acoustic intro, the leadoff track “Orage” trudges solemnly and single-mindedly into that freezing forest, head held high against the winds. It’s a slow, mournful pace at first, but the melodies are regal and sorrowful, the vocals are howling and unrestrained, and the production is both abrasive and clear. The rest of the EP, from “Souvenirs” to “Miist” to “Forest of Doom” are generally faster and more violent, but still contain plenty of tragic melodies woven throughout. And under all of it, the sound of a never-ending rainstorm.
The final two tracks are a cover of “The Walkyries” by Ancalogon (also from France, and also named for a fantasy creature – this time a dragon from The Silmarillion), which sounds a lot like Fhoi Myore’s material except that it has more of a thrashy gallop and nimbler melodies, and then a folky acoustic version of “Songes Funestes” from Fhoi Myore’s just-released full-length.
Although there’s nothing particularly adventurous or new going on in The Northern Cold EP, it’s still an authentic and excellent entry to this forlorn and nostalgic corner of the black metal genre. I’ll have to check out the full-length soon.[Visit the band's website]