Review – Fuath: I

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  • Bio: "Unlike Saor, which finds Marshall focusing mostly on a folky and epic black-metal, here the musician delves into a darker and more melancholic side of black metal, marrying fierce and harsh riffs, unrelenting double-kick drums and raspy screams with melancholic melodies and hypnotic, gloomy ambiences." - Neuropa Records
  • Label: Neuropa Records
  • Release Date: February 1st, 2016
  • Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Fuath, Gaelic for “hatred”, comes to us from the United Kingdom and, yes, it’s another one man black metal operation. This atmospheric solo project is helmed by Andy Marshall of Saor and (former) Askival fame. This endeavour started out last year, and was one certain circles and fans of his have patiently waited for. The end result is the 2016 debut four-song outing I, a thick slab of the atmospheric black metal style. But is it one the black metal community as a whole should take notice of, or is it just a relentless album in all the wrong ways?

“In the Halls of the Hunter” wastes little time thrusting you into Fuath‘s world. A quick clash of cymbals brings on a very moody performance that begins to feel as though you stumbled through an opening in the ground, only to awake in an ice-covered cavern deep within that triggers a rush of doom as you gaze at the light coming through the aforementioned frozen liquid above. However, that latter sensation quickly dissipates as you approach four minutes, where things change to a much more aggressive pace. What once was a chilly yet wonderous presence eventually picks up a faster, sinister one with additional drumming that helps create some catchy grooves, especially about a minute later when there’s a hint of thrash cast into the mix on par with Venom and even Goatwhore for a brief spell. The tighter performance carries on, eventually resorting back to the depressing melodies and speed that made up the time prior to the sudden outburst. But, from here on out, the material does kind of begin to mesh together, even start coming off as repetitive.

In a way, “Blood” seems to follow a similar path as “In the Halls of the Hunter”. It opens with similar atmospheres and constant hooks that aren’t quite as filled with wonder as they are haziness and forlorn battlefields after the clash. Even the cut to a slower chunk approaching four minutes in exists, though the bass guitar winds up a little more prevalent this time around given the near shoegaze levels of melody utilized against just it and a steady largely cymbal crash performance on the kit to fill things up. This is all before heading into yet another venomous increase in speed, which heads back into the aforementioned slower material like the previous composition had as well.

Fuath

Then there’s the longest track, “Spirit of the North”, which doesn’t quite follow the same timing ques as the last two, but the only thing this one has that really makes it stand out is a the a fiery presence right out the gate. But, really, that’s about where the differences seem to lie as far as structuring goes. Much like “The Oracle”, some of the timing changes hit at slightly different spots, but all the same steps of the blueprint are present and followed, right down to the constant gloom filled melodic leads that really don’t do much. In defense of “The Oracle”, however, it does present a little more despair in comparison, not to mention kind of takes the formula used in the other three tracks and temporarily flips it, which is enough of a change to grab the listener’s attention once more at least.

This isn’t saying that I is a bad album, though, or that the chords are all the same or recycled. The problem is that, for a four song album that sprawls across nearly forty-three minutes, with the exception of “Oracle”, it’s all pretty formulaic and only have minimal differences in how it all sounds. The atmospheres do hit the way they are intended, though some of the bite is revoked due to the aforementioned familiarity the deeper in you get, not to mention the more time spent with the recording. Truthfully, had the hooks been a little more limited and not present from start to finish every time in every track, not even taking into account the need for a little more difference in execution and tone, that would have given the listener a subtle enough change to think “Oh, this isn’t just a one trick pony after all.” Whether I is a conceptual release or not, it’s still hard to walk away from this feeling like you haven’t really achieved much beyond what the first nine-and-a-half minutes, something repeat spins even make a hard prospect to consider sitting through another time. Hopefully Fuath lays off abusing the obvious melodies and attempts to not only broaden the sound and environments on future releases, but also tighten them up much more, as this debut outing leaves little with the listener to desire hearing those eventual recording, let alone another romp through this one in particular.

Fuath

Digital review copy of this release provided by Viral Propaganda PR.