I get tipped off to a lot of music I’ve completely missed or overlooked. Sometimes I go back and listen to a few such albums, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. Even less often I end up feeling compelled to write about something from the past. Yet, now is one of those times. Had I caught the latest from Windfaerer when it dropped in September of last year, it surely would have at least earned an honorable mention come the end of 2015. But it is only now that I am immersing myself in the incredible black metal sound Windfaerer have created in Tenebrosum. Everything you could appreciate about black metal is here, with just enough of a twist to make it hard to put away.
Windfaerer, who are based in New Jersey, formed back in 2006 with Tenebrosum marking their second full-length album. Their debut full-length, 2010’s Tribus, was well-received enough that my brief and lackadaisical research certainly unveiled some hype leading up to Tenebrosum. Deservedly so, as it turns out. In the very beginning stages of “Celestial Supremacy”, we are teased with a delicate folkened introduction before the sound erupts in wave after cascading wave of energy. The blasts are definitive and the leads crisp and distinguished. But the most imposing aspect to this sound early on is the vocals. Deep echoing bellows are layered among sharper cries, giving the vocals as much complexity as the musicianship. At least early on.
But as the tracks and sound move forward, we more easily recognize the folk elements at work. And that is primarily a result of one key element: the violin. A unique sound to weave into what is a generally aggressive take on black metal, at least in pace. But it works. And there are moments, on “Outer Darkness” for example, where Ben Karas takes his violin and just goes off in impressively technical fashion. This, along with the other folk elements, are pronounced, but never overwhelming to the true soul of the music. The raw intensity of Tenebrosum‘s atmosphere never wanes through any of the seven tracks, which keeps this album from suffering the same fate as many folk-influenced black metal bands — a lack of seriousness.
There really isn’t much I don’t like about Tenebrosum. Each song offers and enhances the album’s journey through landscapes of sound. From the meandering and occasionally delicate tempos of “Finisterra” to some of the more ferocious riffs of “Outer Darkness”, this album covers a lot of ground. But each track also shows off a wide range of styles and emotions within themselves. Interludes (often fronted by the aforementioned violin) break some of the tracks up nicely, showcasing expertise and creativity in song structure. And this all comes to a head on the closing “Tales Told In Oblivion”, which showcases some thrashier riffs, piercing guitar and violin solos, and a sound that constantly works its way from heavy to more melodic moments. And in the end is succeeds in rounding the album off with emphasis. Impressive work all the way around.
Tenebrosum came out over half a year ago, but it would serve you well to double back and check this out. It has been long discussed what needs to be done with black metal to keep the genre interesting and relevant. Well, frankly, it’s efforts like this. Undoubtedly black metal, Windfaerer creates their own sound through folk influences driven by unique and skilled musicianship. With Tenebrosum, Windfaerer have manipulated their sound brilliantly — offering a quality album on every level. It’s something that is easy to get lost in and will certainly stick with you after many, many listens.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”