If you’re not familiar with Fluisteraars’ Dromers, know that it was one of the best underground metal releases of 2013, a raw and hook-heavy black metal album that became more complex by the minute. The three songs on Dromers were all triumphs in their own right, but it’s hard to not give prime placement to the 16-minute (!) opening beast “De Doornen,” which begins as a bruiser, pulls out to an extended and unexpected melodic build, worms through catchy psychedelic passages built for an Italian horror film, and rounds out with undulating refrains of cliff-crushing riffs. It’s excellent — give it a listen.
Fluisteraars are a slightly different beast on Luwte, the Dutch trio’s follow-up to Dromers. For one, Luwte is a bit more polished — the opening bars sound Emperor-esque — and even though Dromers aimed high, Luwte aims even higher, in part due to tighter orchestration, which better shows off how hard Fluisteraars hit, or just how moving some of the relatively slower passages are. These mid-tempo parts and others now occasionally come lightly peppered with non-electric strings, what almost sounds like a glockenspiel, and other accents for extra-transcendent effect. You’ll hear notes of Agalloch, Grift, and other bands that capture “nature” vibes in one way or another and pair them with black metal, though Fluisteraars have a bit more grit than either band I mentioned by name.
What’s still the same is Fluisteraars’ incredible knack for creating magnificent and approachable atmospheric songs of considerable length and heft. The band possesses an almost uncanny sense of scale and pacing that makes the minutes fly by. Perhaps it’s that the songs are built on a solid, fist-in-the-air rock ‘n’ roll backbone. Extended passages of jangling riffing evolve and elide in interesting ways, while all along a maniac pounds away on drums and pushes things forward. That drumming underscores the fact that the Dutch trio hasn’t forsaken the rawness of their previous work. The snare rings with an unceremonius thudding echo. The phlegmy, snarling vocals come in sparingly and are all the more powerful for the restraint.
The whole thing is incredible, but if there’s one thing that’s been bouncing around my head for the past few days, it’s the gorgeousness of the bright, celebratory riffing on “Angstvrees,” which achieves a kind of beauty rarely seen in heavy metal. But you can listen to the album below.
Luwte is out 9/25 on Eisenwald Tonschmiede.