Finsterforst - Rastlos (Napalm Records)

Epic Folk Metal with less Viking, and more deep dark ancient forests
Release Date: 
22 Nov 2012 - 11:30pm

It would be simple to write off Finsterforst as 'sounds like a German Moonsorrow' but that wouldn't be doing either band, or this brilliant album, due credit. Finsterforst have set out to create a deep dark forest atmosphere throughout Rastlos (Restless), building up an album imbued with the ancient growth of the Black Forest of Germany. This release rumbles in with the haunting melody of the tin whistle over the sounds of the forest, then explodes into distorted guitars and keyboards, interspersed with crashing drum fills.


Nichts als Asche (Nothing but Ashes) opens the album, and at about three minutes into the song I double check who I am listening to. This could easily be a Moonsorrow release if they had kept more of their folk elements over the years. But whereas the black elements of Moonsorrow's sound are soaked with blood, Finsterforst's black is the forest floor at midnight. Before the song has reached the mid-point, I am hearing the unique elements that Finsterforst brings to this genre and stopping all direct comparisons to consider them an epic folk metal band in their own right.


The songs on Rastlos are all over ten minutes, built up into rivers of sound that ebb and flow creating an immersive journey with each song. Hemmed in with ambient elements, Fremd (Foreign) starts with a low horn, orchestral elements, acoustic and clean electric elements while the grunt of the song slowly builds up behind and forces itself forward. This song is interspersed with light-hearted bursts of the accordion, painting filtered beams of sunlight through the thick canopy of sound.


The vast experience of Rastlos is increased by the small haunting interludes between some of the songs. They separate the dense undergrowth of the album, without detracting too much from the overall sound. Stirbt Zuletzt (Dies Last) rolls in after one of these interludes, Am Scheideweg (At the Crossroads). With many distinct folk metal elements, this song features clean vocals and an uplifting riff with orchestral backing.


Ein Lichtschein (A ray of light) burrows back within the ancient nature of the Black Forest, yet towards the end the fade out lingers a little awkwardly before flowing into the interlude forest-noise piece Rast (Rest). Flammenrausch (Flame Noise) is the longest and final song  of Rastlos. It is another song that slowly grows to entwine the listener, incorporating multiple elements over a distorted riff base, echoing with keyboards. This song travels the full length of the continent, incorporating the drift of the  Mediterranean, wild windswept steppes and a path less travelled all within the breaks from the main riff of the music.


Rastlos is an album that demands more than one listening, and even then you may miss things buried within the songs.  Finsterforst have delivered a truly epic album, and while they sit within the genre of folk metal, I'd say with this album they have truly earned themselves the title of Epic Black Forest Metal.