Firtan – “Okeanos” (AOP Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Steadily making their name since 2010 is Firtan from Germany, an extreme metal band that has toured across 10 European countries, supporting Rotting Christ among others, and playing festivals like Summer Breeze and Metal Days. Fusing a number of styles from black metal to epic melodic and dark ambience, the Firtan also take powerful inspiration their own personal feelings about despair and loneliness which is very much reflected in the evoking atmospheres created by their stunning avant-garde music. Sung entirely in their native German using a number of vocal styles from death metal growls to spoken word and harsh screamo while also employing a subtle use of keyboards, strings and acoustic guitars, the 6 tracks on this 2nd full length album are as breathtaking in their sound as they are deep in their effect on one’s soul. Blast beating in with ‘Tag Verweil’, the heavy riffing is overlaid by thoughtful prog melodies that resonate powerfully amid harsh and echoing voices, all of which culminate in fine epic style during the chorus. Firtan’s use of ambience does nothing to detract from the charged atmosphere throughout “Okeanos”, and if anything provides the stark contrast which adds even more to that intensity! A good example of that is the 7 minute ‘Uferlos’, beginning with a tranquil mix of acoustic and electric guitar before chugging off through hard drumming and pagan roars, all the while resplendent with a dark melody through the song as it runs its course using several extreme tempo changes until ending with haunting baritone harmonies – awesome! Ending with the immense 10 minute ‘Siebente, letzte Einsamkeit’, dark clanging melodies shine amid heavy, grim riffing and dark roars at the start before the tempo ups with screamo, orchestrals and driving double bass drums, occasionally contrasted by a quiet interlude, but never letting up in its intensity and most of all, emotional effect on the listener. Firtan are to be hugely commended for crafting something truly special here, for “Okeanos” is a profound album in every sense of the word.