Finsterforst- Rastlos

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, October 6, 2012

As folk metal has increased in popularity and more bands have attempted to try their hand at creating the style, bands have tended to fall into one of two camps. The first is the type that goes over the top with the folk instrumentals and attempt to create a festive atmosphere while still retaining enough of a rough edge to be considered metal. Then there are the bands that attempt to create atmospheric arrangements that are more serious in tone and have viewers picturing epic adventures as they listen along. Germany’s Finsterforst started off closer to the festive sound but have slowly been moving more towards serious, epic arrangements and with their third full length Rastlos they have completed the shift. It’s quite lengthy but the results are stunning and worth experiencing if you’re a fan of all this genre has to offer.

With the exception of two instrumental interludes every song on Rastlos is ten minutes or longer, with the final track coming in at a whopping twenty-two minutes. Finsterforst is the type of band that is able to spread out their ideas and create soaring climaxes more than once per song while maintaining a consistent feel between the ideas. This is definitely a folk metal album at heart, with wind and string instruments frequently making an appearance but there is also a bit of a black metal tonality that appears during the faster distorted moments. It’s certainly a lot to take in, as not only do the songs stretch out for lengthy periods of time but there is always a lot happening in each one. But the instrumentalists seem to have hit their stride on this album as there are plenty of stunning sections where the combination of the folk instruments and guitar melodies create an entrancing atmosphere that would fit right into a fantasy film. Rastlos does have a few moments of repetition, but the most part the songs are well crafted and able to offer enough twists and turns to engage listeners.

Finsterforst changed vocalists since their last full length, and while newcomer Oliver Berlin has a harsh scream that is similar to their previous singer I found myself preferring his style more. Berlin’s screaming is fairly high pitched but feels a bit more composed and intense, which suits the instrumentals perfectly. There is once again plenty of backing vocals contributed by the other members, and they deliver clean singing that gives the songs a strong chorus line. It may not deviate from what is common in the genre, but the harsh and clean vocal styles are consistently well done and have quite a bit of appeal.

This group has been developing their ideas over the last few years and while their first two albums were good Rastlos finds them finally realizing their full potential. Although it will require quite a bit of listening time, fans of more serious oriented folk metal should find it to be a stunning piece of work that is one of the late highlights of the year. Hopefully this is just the beginning, as now that Finsterforst has their ideas firmly in place there is still plenty they can do with them.

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