Finnr’s Cane mystical, dramatic black metal concoction creates foggy, imaginative fire on ‘Elegy’

Every August here in Pittsburgh, the Renaissance Festival comes to town and gives us modern folk a chance to get a taste of what things used to be like. Last year, a guy dressed as a beggar made fun of my shirt. It’s a good time. It also brings to mind certain types of music that are chambery and mystical, feeling like it’s actually transporting you to that era.

I’m not sure how Canadian atmospheric black metal band Finnr’s Cane will take being compared to the Ren Fest, but hopefully they embrace with the affection with which it’s intended. The band’s music, while soaking in current black metal waters, also has many threads to bygone eras with their instrumentation. They eschew bass guitar for cello, and the use of woodwinds creates an environment unlike much of what’s out there in extreme music. There is an element of poetry to what they do, and that’s present and accounted for on their great new third record “Elegy.” This trio—vocalist/guitarist The Bard, cellist/keyboard player The Slave, drummer The Peasant—pushes on with their first music in five years back to rustic, thorny terrain they created on their first two records and makes that world even more expansive and imaginative. This is a hearty, immersive album that’ll swallow you whole.

“Willow” opens the record in a gaze burst, as riffs slowly burn and wash their way into acoustics. The power then arrives, with a proggy push going, whispering and singing uniting, and the music bathing in the fog. Harsh growls erupt, and then things come to a sudden end. The title track takes its time burning its path, as dreamy singing emerges, and the sound of chirping birds sends calm. Growls then rip into the body, while the music gets moodier, and the guitars start to punch. The drama flows from there, eventually disappearing into mystery. “Strange Sun” has doors creaking open, with a prog-fueled arrangement arriving, and synth sounding like battle horns. Then, hard growls punish, while the pace gets speedy and dangerous, and the harshness piles on like a storm. Guitars drip coldly, as the back end goes from violent to warm and jazzy.

“Empty City” flares up fires, as flutes breeze through, giving the song a folkish ambiance. The track flows gently for much of this before the music tears open, wrenching growls destroy, and everything rumbles to an end. “Earthsong” has a glorious start, charging and rushing into the forefront, as it reveals death metal majesty. Savage growls split lips, while the metallic energy heads into a flush of acoustics that brings the temperature down a bit. Heartfelt soloing emerges out of that, keeping the blazes furious, before things come to a massive finish. “Lacuna” has keys plinking, with guitars rushing, the vocals burning like acid, and keys blending in to add different colors to the mix. The music takes a massive twist from there, as the final moments are blasting and momentous before a sudden end. Closer “A Sky of Violet and Pearl” feels like it awakens at dusk, splashing orange and purple across the sky as it comes to life. Harsh growls and powerful guitars crack before a mid-tempo takes over, turning the song murky and mystical. Keys drip, as a classic feel emerges, with the song bowing out in calm, as you drift into your dreams.

Finnr’s Cane return to recording music is another boost to what’s been a really good year for heavy music, and “Elegy” stands apart from so much of what we’ve already heard simply with its personality. This band makes me think of swords clashing, quiet trips across grassy terrain that take all day long, and some of what we’ve lost over the years as we’ve been overcome by technology.     This is a fine record by a different type of band, and we could use more fresh thinking like this in metal.

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