Receiving the Evcharist is our weekly feature where we pair choice albums with our favorite libations. Drink from the cup of heresy. This week’s offering: Fluisteraars’ Bloem and Beachwood Brewing Company’s Mocha Machine
The Tunes: Fluisteraars’ Bloem
Long before I became well and truly obsessed by Dutch black metal, Fluisteraars’ 2015 album Luwte was one that captivated my attention. Its focus on hypnotic riffs and lofty atmosphere (without falling into the trappings of ‘atmospheric black metal’) — signifiers that would come to be the core of the Netherlands’ black metal sound — was unlike anything I had heard, and while I didn’t initially click with it, it wormed its way into my brain, until after many repeated listens I relented to its genius. It feels fitting, then, to bring my coverage of Dutch black metal this year back around to where things all started with Fluisteraars’ newest offering Bloem. A year and a half following their split with fellow countryfolk Turia (whose latest album is also excellent and well worth your time), Bloem sees the band both hone their sound and vastly expand their range of influences. Moving away from the long-form compositions that were their norm, Fluisteraars keep the trance-inducing motifs present in their compositions while managing to trim song lengths under 8 minutes, not a feat every band can achieve but one that many more should strive for, in one man’s humble opinion. At the same time, Bloem sees the duo incorporate elements of psychedelic rock as well as copious string, brass, and orchestral choir into their sound, upping the atmosphere that is their main component. Moments like the swelling, string-driven crescendo in the last half of “Vlek” are transcendant, taking the listener far away from themselves into the fields of flowers that make up the cover and central theme of the album, in a way that is dream-like and captivating. Black metal is a saturated market, and the bands I would describe as ‘innovative’ are becoming fewer and farther in between. Fluisteraars deserve that moniker without question.
The Booze: Beachwood Brewing Company’s Mocha Machine
We return to the land of dark beer once again, this time bringing back something from Huntington Beach, CA’s Beachwood Brewing. Mocha Machine is an imperial porter brewed with coffee and aged on Ecuadorian cacao nibs. What could be wrong with that? Nothing, that’s what. This beer is a godsend. For being billed as a coffee porter, its surprising how much the cacao nibs take center stage here in the flavor profile. Its even more surprising just how much sweetness they add to the beer, with none of the bitterness or woodiness that lesser cacao nibs can impart. The coffee hits in the finish, bringing even more deep roasty flavor with it and a slight bitterness that balances out the almost milk chocolate character of the cacao. The body is velvet smooth and rich on the tongue. You don’t even realize this is above 9% ABV until you read the can, it’s that smooth. Dark beer enthusiasts such as myself would do well to seek this out if you can.
Cheers, and be good to each other,