Fuath – I (Neuropa Records)Tuesday, 2nd February 2016
Of the seasons, winter is one of the finest to accompany black metal. Cold, isolationist, and just enough melancholy, Fuath’s I surely fits the mood of the season. If Fuath doesn’t ring any bells, the main composer, Andy Marshall (of Saor) will certainly pique the interest of the folky black metal devout. But bewared, Saor part II this is not.
Where Saor focuses on Celtic melodies and uses a number of non-metal instrumentation, Fuath prefers the ‘less is more’ approach. The melodies give the reins to the guitars (and some infrequent violin strings), allowing for a more ‘authentic’ black metal experience. The music is suitably darker and more somber than Saor as well, but Marshall’s penchant for atmosphere still peeks out from around the corners of these four 10-minute tracks. You’ll notice some nods to Darkthrone, Burzum, and even some Winterfylleth as you let the songs absorb, which is really the best way to experience the album. While there are some more caustic moments (such as the beginning of “Spirit of the North”), it’s truly an album to just sit back and unwind with. The atmosphere and blackened melodies produce that hypnotic vibe that manages to take you out of the moment and allows you to venture to the hills of your mind.
I is strong release that accomplishes its goal of taking things back towards the ‘90s era of black metal. But it does feel a bit familiar, even with the surprising concise nature of it (a quick 40-ish minutes, compared to some of the more longwinded sound-a-likes). With some added diversity among the tracks, Fuath could eventually be held to the same high regard in this field as Saor is among the folk metal devotees.