Bonn, Germany-based black metal entity Fyrnask began life in 2008 as the solo project of founding member Fyrnd, and while the band has found new forms as a live project in later years, Fyrnask is still under the control of its creator when it comes to the recorded output.
The third, and thrilling full-length, Fórn, is driven by a ritualistic undertow, embarking with Forbænir, an instrumental piece that ushers in the record on howling winds, chimes and almost ecclesiastical chords, giving the opening moments a liturgical stance. The ceremonial pace is preparation for Draugr and its huge, swirling vortex of sound where guitars and drums vie for space around Fyrnd’s menacing vocal. The construction is solid, though, and where lesser bands could lose all cohesion, Fyrnask assemble the pieces to create a composition that is singular and rousing. Niðrdráttr shines with sorrowful guitars while Fyrnd brings low, spoken elements into the fray as it descends into states of anguish and utter despair.
Fyrnd’s voice is powerful and the contrast between that depth and the overlaid cries of horror is chaotic yet beautiful. It feeds into the narrative of death, loss and hopelessness and continues in the sacrifical centrepoint of Agnis Offer. There’s an ancient feeling to the music, with the track starting on the striking of a gong and the song incorporating dynamic, and almost tribal drumbeats. Towering walls of sound compete for dominance against percussive structures and mournful cleaner vocals, culminating with roars of suffering. Blótan rages forth on intense waves of guitar and horror and utilises every available sound in Fyrnask’s arsenal. Guttural vocals play against slow-building chants and blackened guitars maximse the tension with cyclical movements and world-toppling volume. This is modern black metal at its peak, with Fyrnask taking the original blueprint – even singing in Norwegian – and turning it into a stranger, more uncomfortable beast entirely. Fórn is a stunning work and, even at this juncture, a contender for the black metal record of the year.