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Formloff - Spyhorelandet CD (album) cover

SPYHORELANDET

Formloff

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.95 | 2 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Spyhorelandet' - Formloff (7/10)

Even as the self-proclaimed old giant of black metal, Norway's scene has in recent years drifted slowly towards more avant-garde territory. The band Arcturus is certainly the one that comes most readily to mind, but in truth, some of the coolest things in the Norwegian scene are passing below the radar. Although I've always had a penchant for the more left-field, 'experimental' sound in black metal, Formloff is one such band that seems to have escaped the attention of most. It actually hasn't been until this year's "Spyhorelandet" where Formloff have finally sparked some well-deserved acclaim and hype. Coming across as a mix of the traditional Norwegian Viking/black fusion and the coldly calculated atmosphere of Blut Aus Nord, Formloff create a convincing, powerful sound on this sophomore, although I'm left wondering if they couldn't have fuelled it with a little more liveliness.

The music on "Spyhorelandet" is dark, atmospheric, and brooding. Truth be told, that's a description that could be well-pegged on most Norwegian black metal, but the manner in which Formloff gets this feeling of dread across a little differently. At their core, they stick largely to the conventions of their nation's premier cultural export; Formloff treats listeners to a wearily familiar foray of blastbeats, fast tremolos and raspy snarls. Had this been where "Spyhorelandet" ended, there would not be much to get excited about; this duo are able musicians, but the conventional elements of Formloff have been done better many times by other acts. Giving a nod to other avant-black bands like Blut Aus Nord and Axis of Perdition, Formloff distinguishes itself for its unsettling sense of composition. As if a mid-twentieth century classical composer sought to write in this style, many of Formloff's best ideas revolve around guitar textures and harmonies that don't sound quite right to the ear at first. For the more conservative black metallers, "Spyhorelandet" enjoys its fair share of fast- paced riffing, but the real gem here lies in their slower buildups. When the listener's mood suits it, it can be absolutely devastating.

Considering "Spyhorelandet" is an independent release, the production here is fairly well done, if a bit dry. The guitar work is the big treat here. Particularly with regards to their clean and lead tones, Formloff always seem to pick the fitting texture for whatever mood they're trying to create. Unfortunately, as far as mood goes, there isn't a great deal of variety. It's barely over fifty minutes long, but there are times when the record sounds quite a bit longer than it actually is. There isn't much of a sense of complimentary flow here; the closer "Drokkne i ei flo ta åske" wraps up on a fairly anti-climactic note. Regardless, it does not stop "Spyhorelandet" from feeling like a complete, start-to-finish album. It should be love at first listen for a black metaller looking to hear the 'classic' sound approached from a bit of a different angle. From where I'm standing, I hear some amazing potential in this band's ability to create cold textures and darkness without always having to revert to the same old tricks. Should Formloff continue to ferment the progressive side of their sound, I can see them becoming something great in the next years of Norwegian black metal. As for now, it's not a record without its flaws, but I've found myself a new band to keep an eye on.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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