Somewhere between their debut, Weltenkraft and their second effort Zum Tode Hin, Germany’s Finsterforst made a subtle change from a pure Equilibrium-worship band playing a more bouncy and uptemo form of blacked viking/folk metal, to a more somber and slower paced band more akin to Bathory with only hints of folky Equlibrium-isms. Well, on their Napalm Records debut, Rastlos (Restless), Finsterforst has fully developed their sound into virtually pure Bathory worship.
Rastlos is seven songs long. Out of those, two are interludes that leave the other five songs to fill the album’s massive 77-minute run time, with tracks ranging from 10 to a whopping 22 minutes. While there are a few bursts of Equilibrium-like tempos by way of some black-ish vocals, as well as some typically folky accordions and harpsichords, Finsterforst are now utilizing far more Quorthon-like croons, as well big robust chugging guitars, plenty of huge sounding synths and somber brass/horn sections that give the album a much BIGGER feel, one that is still, incredibly epic in scope and sound.
And while I do miss the band’s shorter, bouncier bursts, the fact is, Finsterforst simply nail this sound and don’t sound like mere Equilibrium knock offs anymore. The band sounds more like classic Moonsorrow (Voimasta ja Kunniasta and Kivenkantaja) mixed with Hammerheart, with huge sprawling songs and vast epic tracks full of Viking choirs and patient, sonorous marches that would be fit for a Viking funeral. This mix is no more apparent than on standouts “Fremd” and “Ein Lichtstein” which perfectly mix the rangy majesty of Bathory and Moonsorrow with just enough blackened, folky pep to keep things from slightly single minded. In particular, “Ein Lichtstein”, which might be one of the year’s most downright epic tracks, rivaling “Urquell” from the last album in sheer, rousing majesty. Especially with the increased viking choirs chanting “Hey! Hey!” and “Ahhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhh”. In fact, it’s so goddamn epic, it brings a tear to my eye and my dick actually kinda hurts a little bit — but that might be the chain mail chaffing. I haven’t had that mix of emotions and pain since my wedding night. And while those two tracks stood out for me, there are just so many hair raising, horn swilling moments on Rastlos that words simply don’t do it justice. For example, check out the sonorous chug and trumpets of “Stirbt Zuletzt”.
And while the prospect of a 22-minute closer is daunting, the band pull it off with a rangy but varied end note with “Flammenrausch”. However, as sprawling as the track is, around 1/2 way through this beast, a delicate acoustic bridge and horns signal something special coming down the pipe, but that payoff never fully comes. The track sort of fades out without the rousing climax I was hoping for (I imagine that’s what the wife thinks about my wedding night). But that does not stop Rastlos from being one of this year’s most rousing, blood pumping efforts from a band who thanks to a new deal with Napalm Records, should get some of the attention they have deserved for some time now within the folk/viking metal genre.[Visit the band's website]