FLUISTERAARS, which I believe translates into ‘Whisperers’, is a two-man black metal band from Bennekom in the Netherlands, and their new release Bloem (meaning ‘Flower’) is a naturalistic yet nihilistic experience, summoning up both images of beautiful outdoor vistas as well as that of an unspeakable horror. The album is inviting, perhaps even calming at times and yet delivers an entirely dark and visceral experience. Join me as we take a walk through haunted woods in album form.
Before going any further I must apologise if any of my translations are off but I wanted to understand the music better and so did some rudimentary decoding. I used multiple online options as well as consulting a friend but if anything is off please let me know, I would love to learn more.
I will state upfront: I thoroughly enjoyed this album. I found it, for the most part, relaxing and peaceful in atmosphere. It does have moments of bleakness but it is never overly aggressive. The music maintains an air of composure and maturity throughout the album. Lyrics are pastoral as the title of the album would suggest, however, some of them have seemingly horrific twists. Although roughly translated the lyrics occasionally reminded me of cosmic horror, somewhat Lovecraftian. On top of that, the lyrics have a philosophical nature sometimes with either paganistic or nihilistic themes contained within. Poetic and mournful. In awe of nature and tired of the human condition.
The album kicks off with a distorted yet jazzy chord. The title of the track, “Tere Muur” meaning “Delicate Wall”. The guitar chords, although extended with seventh qualities initially almost immediately become power chords and the music, grows darker in tone. This album, on the whole, is full of progression, structurally, rhythmically, dynamically, and harmonically. Chords similar in quality to the introduction are heard again in the slower chorus-like section summoning up images of a shadowy gondola ride through a nameless, mystical forest. Before long the song devolves into some dissonant nightmare, the dream of a dying, sickly human.
Track two hits harder from the start with a beautiful cacophony of tremolo-picked notes. “Nasleep”, translated as “Aftermath”, has a maddened atmosphere yet manages to still have sections of respite. The madness is complemented by the obscure and terrified screams heard at around three minutes that then start to glitch in strange ways. I’m guessing this was either achieved by a sampler or in post-production. However, it was achieved the effect is unsettling, to say the least. The respite comes in short chorus sections as well as the softer middle-to-end section. This section is full of space, like that of a clear blue sky. Here we hear a melodic sequence of strummed chords, guitar lead, and keys. The music seems to ascend slowly, like hot air on a summer’s day. Although there is beauty in this section there is also some sadness. As the drums and distortion are introduced the sun seems to set. The light fully saturates the space and slowly drifts away like paper blown in the wind.
Track three, titled “Eeuwige Ram”, is the most confusing of the titles for me. This comes out as “Eternal Ram” when translated. I assumed this to be some sort of folklore reference, however, a few searches did not yield any concrete results. I assume the ‘eternal’ part most likely alludes to some sort of deity or spirit. I am particularly fond of the gruff, shouted vocals heard in the start of this track. The song has a folky feel to it in general which ties in with my basic analysis of the content. The divine trumpets heard from four minutes onward are more confirmation of this. The horns sound majestic and heavenly layered with some lyrical lead guitar. The title also gives me somewhat paganistic connotations and due to the naturalistic nature of the music and themes, this probably isn’t a huge stretch. Although it’s hard to choose favourites, I do like the slow and purposeful feeling this song presents. Although I haven’t properly listened to Bathory in a while, something of this track is reminiscent of Nordland II, to which I am partial.
Track four, “Vlek”, roughly translated as “Stain”, or possibly “Bleak”, is true to either translation. The coldness of the music is palpable, frigid, and indifferent. The vocals are raspy, tearing at the vocal cords. It’s one of the most classic sounding tracks from the outset. The song, in expected fashion for this album, neatly moves into a dreamier section with slower strummed chords but for the most part, is more of the same. I enjoy the acoustic guitar break as well as the strings that are used towards the end of the track: although a bit cheesy, they add a fresh quality to the album to keep the tracks from feeling too samey. The end of the track is an uplifting resolution; I particularly love how the album is full of positive moments such as this.
A final mention goes to the atmosphere of the final track, “Maanrüine” (or “Moon Ruin”). The guitar, and music in general, has the quality of melodic wind, softly whistling through the trees later joined by an ethereal layering of vocals and effects that grows in presence and becomes a chorus of lost souls. The mournful trumpet solo heard in the middle is a lovely touch: a trumpet call such as would be heard at the burial of a war hero. I also dug the acoustic outro layered with guitar feedback—a most appropriate end to this album.
Although all I am reading is translations, I have to say I love the lyrics of this album— it’s one of my favourite elements of this record. Compelling and moving, full of heart, what more can you ask for? Overall, I think this album is a great listen. It has a solid mix; the instruments are pleasant on the ears and the music radiates warmth even in its darkest moments. Although this album has all the hallmarks of a classic black metal record, it surpasses that label somewhat and besides the vocal style and one or two darker riffs, the music is not genre-bound. Give it a whirl.
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