Farsot - Life Promised Death

Artist: Farsot

Album Title: Life Promised Death

Label: Lupus Lounge

Date of Release: 16 February 2024

For one reason or another, this is my first proper foray into the black metal/avantgarde world of Farsot and I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the Germans here. What little I’ve heard in the past failed to ignite my enthusiasm fully, so I’ve tended to steer clear. However, given that Farsot have never been the most prolific of entities, releasing just four albums over a quarter of a century if you include ‘Life Promised Death’, I felt I ought to have a listen.  

As I have discovered, Farsot are one of those bands who like to create a bit of mystery. It means that whilst they don’t all dress up in odd costumes, they go by anonymous stage names. According to the press release, four of the quintet have been playing together in the band for over two decades, but I only know the musicians as vocalist X.XIX, guitarists III.XXIII and I.XVI, bassist/keyboardist XX.VIII and drummer XIX.XVII. I assume there’s some meaning behind the names/numbers, but I’ll be damned if I can find the answers.

Not that all of that really matters, though, because it’s the music that should be our main focus here. And, once again, I’m left in a similar situation. It’s because of this that this review for ‘Life Promised Death’ comes after its release. I gave it plenty of time to make as big an impact upon me as possible, but I still sit here writing my thoughts with a more than just a touch of confusion and uncertainty about them. This record is perfectly OK, and there’s little to find much fault with. But, yet, I’m not bowled over by the music, meaning that I feel like I have to force each spin through; it’s definitely not an excited anticipation that I feel when pressing play, more of a stoic ‘let’s do this’.

Normally, I’d just abandon any hope of reviewing albums like this. However, there remains something about it that cannot be ignored, and which I firmly believe deserves some greater scrutiny. I may not be the biggest afficionado of previous Farsot material, but there’s without a doubt a greater feeling of experimentation within the music here that deserves to be explored.

The core of the music on ‘Life Promised Death’ remains rooted in black metal, but this is far from a straightforward black metal blast-a-thon. Instead, acoustic guitar passages frequently appear, as do some more atmospheric and psychedelic influences, almost dreamy in tone. Take the track ‘Into Vertigo’ as a perfect example of this latter approach. There are swathes of keys that drench the track in some kind of indistinct haze and, once the more visceral, spiky black metal attack momentarily wears itself out, we’re led into a soundscape that’s dominated by clean, relaxed vocals, resonant bass lines, and guitar embellishments that have a 70s-70s feel about them. You can almost reach out and touch the smoke in the room, as the music really plays on your senses.

I’ve also grown to quite like the opening track, ‘Nausea’ which grows slowly and methodically from claustrophobic minimalism, into a strangely hypnotic affair that’s dominated by a strong central riff. But then, out of nowhere, comes a vibrant, playful bass line that gives the track a black ‘n’ roll feel to it. And, for all its faster moments, there is much of it that lopes along at a slower tempo, allowing the space within transitions to play tricks with your mind.

By contrast, ‘Buoyant Flames’ takes over with a much faster, more aggressive and ‘traditional’ black metal assault. The choral-style vocals in the background lend a more grandiose edge, but it’s the acoustic break after a couple of minutes that brings with it a touch more melody, and which has a certain captivating quality to it. Some of the sound effects are straight from the 90s too, meaning that there’s an old-school feel to the music in places within this song in particular.

If I’m honest though, the second half of the album passes by in much more of a blur, or a haze might be more appropriate given the feelings that are created by the album. I’m hard pressed to pick out other tracks for specific mention because I can’t help but feel that they tend to merge into each other a little. This album, as suggested above, is perfectly adequate and to many may even be a lot better than that. It’s just that I find it difficult to remain fully invested and entertained by it. My mind starts to wander as the album progresses however much I try to keep my focus trained on the music confronting me.

Kudos to Farsot for trying new things and keeping things interesting, especially when other entities are pedalling the same old rehashed music. I’m sure there will be an audience for this slab of modern black metal with strong psychedelic and ‘progressive’ tendencies. Unfortunately, I am the one who feels obliged to suggest that you exercise caution when taking a listen because it’s a bit hit and miss, with the strongest material front loaded on the album. ‘Life Promised Death’ is a decent body of work, perhaps occasionally even better than decent. However, take a listen before you buy, as it might not be the album for you.

The Score of Much Metal: 75%



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