I have been enamored with Swedish black/folk metal band Bhleg ever since my other half reviewed the trio’s previous album back in January of 2021. I am excited to see Bhleg back at it again so quickly with their latest release, Fäghring. Additionally, this is the fourth and final installation of their album tetralogy “Ár.” Each album from Bhleg is more refined, dynamic, and impressive than the last, and Fäghring is no exception. Unique instrumentation, vocal variety, and intricate compositions make this album a must listen and an epic finale to “Ár.” Bhelg have mastered the world of black metal and folk music and continue to grow and perfect their distinctive sound.
Adding to the robust compositions in this album, diverse instruments including lyre, hurdy-gurdy, mouth harp, nyckelharpa, flute, bullroarer, and birch trumpet are heard, making this the band’s most unique and vibrant release to date. In addition to diverse instrumentation, there is an array of vocals rooted in Scandinavian folk-tradition featuring various guest appearances including Andreas Pettersson from Saiva, Êlea of Noêta, and Swedish author Lars Magnar Enoksen. I discovered something new with each listen which made Fäghring a serious grower, as they say.
I absolutely love the cultural elements and this is a wonderful album to immerse yourself in and let the music envelop as you are transported to Scandinavia. I especially feel this in interlude track “Solvigd” which features Êlea’s ethereal vocals and chanting with ambient backing with birds chirping. This track is easy to get lost in before an electric guitar riff is heard at the end as the track flows into the following ferocious black metal piece “Frö.” This track is heaviest on the album with intense growling vocals, powerful drums, and thunderous riffs. The intensity of the “Frö” holds until the final two minutes when wailing vocals are heard as the black metal elements fade and a haunting atmosphere takes over.
My favorite track of Fäghring, “Grönskande gryning,” is also the first single that was released. Understandably so, it is a perfect taste of what the album has to offer. Spanning just over ten minutes, this composition includes many of the elements that make Fäghring special; rooted in black metal with powerful drumming, a variety of instrumentation and vocals. The song begins with blast beat drumming, vocal chanting harmonized with nyckelharpa, and roaring riffs. Growls are later introduced as the black metal elements take over. Spoken word is also heard in a fleeting ambient moment before jumping back into the head banging riffs. The track ends with more ambience and ringing vocals, ending with quiet sounds of nature which carry into the beginning of the following track. The transitions are seamless throughout creating the effect of one continuous piece like an unfolding story.
This year has already seen a plethora of wonderful releases and March was jammed packed with gems carrying over into April. I know it is early yet, but this album is so stunning and perfectly crafted that I can say with certainty that Fäghring will appear on my year end list. Now that “Ár” has reached its conclusion, I am eager to see where Bhleg goes next. I know that whatever musical creation is due from the band, it will be amazing and captivating. For now, I will keep enjoying Fäghring and the rest of the tetralogy and escape to the majesty that is Scandinavia.