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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review: Folteraar - Vertellingen Van Een Donkere Eeuw

Folteraar (Torturer) is a black metal outfit hailing from Holland, consisting of B., who is responsible for the drums, and K., who plays the guitar and adds the vocals. Hardly anything is public about them, they seemingly, not confirmed, are members of The Black Heretic Order, which apparently is an underground circle of bands that are connected through their members and they have participated in a such an impressive list of bands and projects within TBHO, that I couldn’t help wonder if their days have more than 24 hours. TBHO is much like the French ‘Les Légions Noires’ which in turn was formed after the Norwegian ‘Black Metal Inner Circle’, founded by good old Euronymous, Mayhem’s guitar king. Being part of this implies Folteraar plays an anti-commercial, raw, almost primitive form of black metal, which in no way is an indication of the quality of the music and/or the skills of the musicians, mixed and produced in an equally raw and primitive fashion. That indeed is the case on ‘Vertellingen van een donkere eeuw’ (Tales of a dark century). Of course the fact that TBHO, the affiliated bands and their respective members are shrouded in mystery and, to some extent, obscurity help amplify the overall primitive, underground atmosphere that ‘Vertellingen…’ breathes as well. Not too much, though, because regardless whether the above is true or not, this album could still very well be considered the epitome of underground black metal.

On to the album then. It is not their first release as Folteraar, the last few years they have released more than a handful of splits, EP’s and demos, all in preparation of ‘Vertellingen…’, their first full-length. ‘Vertellingen…’ is, as far as I’m concerned, filled with black metal in its purest, nastiest form, as it was meant to be if you will. Relentless blast beats, screaming, threatening vocals and raw, somewhat monotonous guitar riffs, all at, mostly, high speed. It starts with an intro called ‘Innerlijk vuur’ (Inner fire) that, although it doesn’t seem that special, immediately gives you a feeling of unease, maybe even terror. And that is exactly what you keep on feeling throughout the entire album.

It might start off in relative peace with the intro followed by ‘De mars der ondoden’ (The march of the undead), provided peace is a word that can even be used in this context, but once ‘Droomgezichten’ (Dreamfaces) rears its ugly head you’re lost. All 12 songs of ‘Vertellingen…’ consist of various, but all equally terrifying forms of the filthiest black metal people can conjure up. Whether you play the grievous ‘Waan’ (Delusion), the terrifying ‘Mijn verlossing’ (My salvation), the maniacal ‘Lasterende gebeden’ (Blasphemic prayers), the at times derailing ‘Maalstroom in krankzinnigheid’ (Maelstom in insanity), the evil ‘Conjuratie van het kwaad’ (Conjuration of evil) or the at times oppressive ‘Onzuiver’ (Impure), every single song scares the hell out of you. Even the most accessible song on the entire album, ‘Nachtloper’ (Nightwalker) meets these standards.

To be honest, in my opinion the entire idea behind black metal calls for certain levels of primitivism, nihilism and terror in both music and production and Folteraar definitely ticks all the right boxes there. B. and K. obviously know how to play and, maybe even more important, how to create a terrifying atmosphere within each and every song. The harsh, threatening, at times insane sounding vocals are a substantial addition to that atmosphere, even though it’s impossible to determine what the exact phrases are. Also a not to be underestimated influence is the production, which sounds primitive, but in fact perfectly balances all layers of both the music and the vocals. “Vertellingen…’ is a black metal album that embodies all the filth and horror that is associated with the genre. Not the wisest choice for the faint of heart or the metal heads that are looking to take their first steps on the paths of black metal, but a definite no-brainer for the true fans.

Written by Henric van Essen

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