This is a record of such sweeping breadth and hidden depth, that to summarize it in a few hundred words in a thankless task. Adjectives like epic and majestic spring too easily to mind, but even such high praise fails to fully convey the sheer scale of Rastlos.
Setting aside two brief interludes, not one of the remaining five tracks clocks in at under ten minutes; while the closing “Flammenrausch” is well over twenty minutes. It goes some way to conveying how good this is that not once does the attention wander during any of the lengthy compositions. If anything, such songs become more absorbing with each passing moment.
On an album that really needs to be heard as a whole piece to be truly appreciated, the aforementioned “Flammenrausch” is perhaps the most obviously indicative of the band’s style if taken in isolation – an enveloping journey that takes in blast beats, traditional metal riffing and spectacularly beautiful acoustic detours along its way, never losing sight of its destination.
Similarly stunning is thirteen minute opener “Nichts als Asche,” which begins with a furious black metal assault before settling into an addictive mid-tempo groove, resplendent with intelligent orchestrations, choral vocals and accordion-led folk melodies. It’s so easy to go wrong with such overarching and ambitious music, but when it’s done as well as this, the results are breathtaking.
The equally enjoyable “Stirbt Zuletzt” finds Finsterfrost dropping the tempo and easing back on complexity in favor of an evocative and hypnotic structure somewhere between Tyr and Moonsorrow. The fact that Finsterfrost’s finished product holds the attention in a way that those two – extremely talented – bands don’t, tells its own story.
Fans of Wintersun and Enslaved, you have a new favorite band. Get Rastlos in your collection as soon as you can.
(released November 27, 2012 on Napalm Records)