Album Review: Mach Dich Frei by Finsterforst
Posted by RiffRaff
In my CD collection I have a few CDs where I have no idea when or where I bought them. They just kinda appeared. One of those is this double CD called Urwerk by Finsterforst. It’s nothing outstanding; an ok record. Still for the life of me, I can’t remember ever buying it. Anyhoo, I’ve only really listened to it a handful of times and it basically sounds like Moonsorrow plus an accordion player hopped up on a cocktail of cocaine and amphetamines. Not bad, but a tad repetitive, long-winded, and that overload of accordion can get a bit annoying at times. I do appreciate the ‘what if Korpiklaani were a black metal band’ thing as an experiment, but… Oh, well. So, when I saw that we got a promo for the latest record from this anomaly in my CD collection I decided to give it a spin to see if these guys were still berating listeners with post-neo-accordion-black-metal. To my surprise, what I found is nearly a whole different band who kept their best elements, shook their formula around, and sent their accordion player to rehab. In short, a band which has really matured a lot since my last experience with them.
Mach Dich Frei still has a slight feel of inspiration from Moonsorrow as the longer songs are peppered with ominous keyboard soundscapes, blackish and deathish howls and growls, and open and progressive song structures. They also employ a wider variety of instruments (most likely aided by a keyboard instead of genuine instruments), including great use of this war horn sound that often ups the ante on the Pagan feel of the album. The accordion player also really knows his place this time around know exactly when and what to do to add maximum folk to the songs without being superfluous. And I’ll be damned if I didn’t mention I love whenever the big manly Viking clean vocals (sometimes done choir style) kick in and add a hulking set of testicles to the songs.
And holy hell, the groove at times here is astounding. Outside of a couple of Eluveitie, Turisas, or Heidevolk songs, I’ve never heard such punchy groove throughout a folk metal record like here. Especially in tracks like ‘Zeit für Hass’ and ‘Mann gegen Mensch’ the approach to groove adds an incredibly uplifting impact to the songs without making them feel too poppy or bouncy. Songwriting done right. And throughout the record the songwriting, while nothing groundbreaking, is rock solid. The only time I found myself disengaged from the album was during a folk soundscape interlude towards the back-end. It’s well done, just takes a tad too long to get rolling.
Other tracks worth mentioning would be the title track ‘Mach Dich Frei!’ where Finsterforst’s songwriting abilities are really showcased. Floating from that exhilarating feeling one gets from power metal to the weightiness of death metal to the mystical sensations of Pagan metal, this song really delivers a well-round meal of steel and iron. The album closer as well, ‘Finsterforst’, is a near 24 minute lesson they must have attended at a Moonsorrow workshop. Though, instead of aping the masters of epically long epic tracks, they took notes on the dos and don’ts of crafting a Pagan metal epic and applied them to their own unique style. Not a dull moment throughout the whole thing.
It’s always nice to see a band has lots of potential come around to realizing it. Props to Finsterforst for taking a step up into the upper echelon of Pagan/folk metal and I can only hope that they keep climbing and honing their craft. Until then, I will be spinning Mach Dich Frei quite regularly. 4.5/5