Fyrnask’s ‘Bluostar’ puts an ancient chill in the air

It’s not going to be frosty and cold where I live for many months now, though it’s supposed to be in the mid-50s on Thursday and Friday, which will feel damn close to that since we’re so used to warmer weather this time of year. That might make for suitable weather for the debut full-length  “Bluostar” from Germany’s Fyrnask, a record that feels like an arctic chill on your neck that leaves your skin prickly with goosebumps and your ears and nose numb. That’s at least how I feel about it.

After a well-received demo “Fjorvar ok Benjar” in 2010, this one-man project led by Fyrnd (though some artwork and lyrical portions were contributed by someone named Blutaar) sounds well on its way to establishing itself as one of black metal’s most exciting new acts. What you hear on “Bluostar” isn’t terribly different from any other icy, atmospheric black metal bands, as there’s a nice mix of violent, yet melodic playing and eerie, nature-embracing ambient sections. Many others have done this sort of thing before, such as Negura Bunget, Agalloch, Fauna, Wolves in the Throne Room and Arckanum. But like those bands, Fyrnask manage to carve out a passionate, memorable album that, while using familiar elements, makes a strong statement and etches its way into your mind. It’s a record that, since receiving a download, I’ve sat down with many times. I can only imagine how much better it will sound when the ground is frozen and I have dark, powerful winter ales to enjoy.

The lyrics on “Bluostar” are written in German, so if you aren’t fluent, you might be scrambling to find meaning in all of this – admittedly I know practically zero German, so I can’t quite cull the proper translation, at least lyrically – but it’s impossible not to feel the album’s spirit. Fyrnd dug back into old Northern European tales and rituals and what was intended for passage from the continent’s ancestors to those living today. It sounds like this would be perfect emanating from the deep woods, late at night, while some of those old ghosts still may be wandering, trying to find willing eras to hear their tales. It appears they may have encountered and enraptured Fyrnd one night, and this is what resulted.

The record opens on a gentle conjuring with the ambient cut “At fornu fari,” which sets the stage for the savage and thundering “Evige stier,” proving there’s menace and danger amongst the trees and in the waters. The heavy chanting that opens “Ein eld i djupna” eventually allows the song to unfurl into a dark, creaky blast of metal that might even be appreciated by those who like very early Immortal recordings. It’s one of my favorite songs on the disc. “Bergar” has an oddly digital-style opening that hints at the storm ahead, and that makes its way over land in a calculating manner, making the most of its nearly 10 minutes, eventually opening sky and blasting the earth. It’s both steeped in folklore yet crackling with modern electricity. “Ins Fenn” has moments of a power metal-style gallop and a black-and-roll style, but it has many peaks and valleys over which to cross before your journey ends; and the title cut (translated means offering or sacrifice) begins majestically, and even when it gets heavy, it metes out the crushing in a mid-tempo, but no less heavy manner. It’s an incredibly cathartic song that feels like Fyrnd has torn open his chest and let out everything he stored inside of him.

Aside from the music, the packaging of the record is gorgeous. It’s an attractive digipak created by At the Ends of the Earth Designs (Kampfar, Drautran) that captures the heart of this record perfectly. It’s one of those designs that by looking at the cover, inside and through the booklet, you almost can imagine how this is going to sound before you play it. That’s good news for people who still buy records based on presentation. You won’t be led astray.

As someone who listens to a lot of, and sometime is inundated by, this type of black metal, I found this record incredibly rewarding and, despite the epic running time of many of these songs, nicely timed. The ambient stuff allows moments to take a breath and relax, and Fyrnd keeps the metallic parts interesting, changing on a dime, and always wholly inspired. I’m glad I have my hands on this thing now, because as daylight decreases and the cold air returns, I’ll have a record to complement that time. You can’t have enough of those. At least I can’t.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fyrnask/114847128596890

To buy “Bluostar,” go here: http://templeoftorturous.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=386&XTCsid=53ndjc7vdrhjm0ku2i9it9bcu1

For more on the label, go here: http://www.templeoftorturous.com/

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