Written by: RUB on 09/04/2021 09:01:33

Fuath, whose moniker literally means hatred in Gaelic, already sounds much bleaker and more depressing than the other records from the black metal genre that I have reviewed recently. Weirdly enough, this Scottish act is yet another one-man endeavour, with Andy Marshall as the sole member behind all the instruments except for the drums. Just like his other project Saor (meaning free in Gaelic), we’re dealing with atmospheric black metal, albeit here he takes an even darker path – at least lyrically. As a follow-up to the 2016 release “I”, which was meant to be a one-time thing, I was not expecting “II” to be too different, but when you have a début album as critically acclaimed as “I” is, it was nonetheless always going be interesting to find out if the difficult second outing could be just as great.

The opener “Prophecies” confirms my initial thoughts; the sound is very grim and cold, and falls right in line with lyrical themes such as winter and melancholy, both of which are listed as topics on “II” in the Encyclopaedia Metallum. Marshall’s freezing shrieks are a perfect match for these musings, and just like the vocals on Udånde’s fantastic début “Life of a Purist”, the growls on “II” sound as if they had been recorded from a distance. This ensures a well-constructed soundscape perfectly fitted to atmospheric black metal genre. Marshall’s prowess in using the atmospheric element is a force to be reckoned with already on this first track, and although “Prophecies” starts out in a grim manner, the progressive nature of the song nonetheless quickly becomes apparent. And as the tempo is turned down noticeably just shy of the two-minute mark to accompany some monkish chants, the epic song structure at the base is truly unveiled. Soothing and calming melodies ensure there is a seamless build-up to the subsequent barrage of symphonic black metal, and as the melody comes full circle once again when the classic black metal shrieks re-enter the soundscape, the listener is left with a good feeling of what’s to come — especially on the basis of such a beautiful outro as “Prophecies” contains.

As soon as “The Pyre” starts as the second track of the album with its simple, yet effective drum and guitar pattern, I just know exactly how it’s all going to pan out: as likely the best track on the entire record. I latch onto the melodic sound instantly and my head begins to nod in compliance with the soothing rhythm. The slow pace, the harsh shrieks, and the simple yet progressive atmosphere at hand work together extremely well, and although the sound of the track changes very little over the course of its seven minutes of playtime, one never feels that a reference to doom or drone metal would be in order — instead, the soundscape persistently remains at a constant level of black metal, with the instruments really unfolding to create an atmosphere that is every bit as dark and bleak as the cover art of the album. Before the track ends on a sudden and quiet outro, the build-up explodes with plenty of tremolo and blast beats just shy of the five-minute mark, which should be enough to satisfy every unfulfilled black metal need the listener might have.

By now, it seems like Marshall has once again succeeded with his knack for writing epic, progressive and atmospheric tunes. The variety of symphonic elements at play profoundly emphasises just how progressive and unique his songwriting is, with “Into the Forest of Shadows” providing another excellent example. Here the instrumental interludes with soaring synths on top of a simple riff, works like the perfect bridge between the blasting black metal parts. The same goes for the addition of clean guitar and tribal drumming just before the four-minute mark. Stuff like this makes the black metal parts stand out much more vividly than is often the case in this genre, and helps to create a much more thorough and complete soundscape.

The interesting thing about Fuath is that Marshall has chosen not to divulge the lyrics to the songs in any other way than through his growls — much in the vein of the early ‘90s black metal, from which he takes a lot of his inspiration. This small but very noticeable detail just adds to the mysticism surrounding the album and in today’s scene it is perhaps a tad unconventional, as it allows for so much more space for the instrumentation to shine compared to the vocals. The atmospheric journey Marshall has created with Fuath really is something else, but it definitely speaks to his advantage, as it helps elevate the instruments and the atmosphere to a pedestal and give them their own voice, to to speak.

The sense of the shivering cold of winter returns with “Essence”. The classic-sounding black metal riff sit well within the calm and soothing synth-sound present throughout the track, and as the continuous blasting sound of the drums, like that of a raging winter storm, traverses every section in it, the guitar neatly binds it all together with the changing pace of Marshall’s single strums and tremolo patterns. This again highlights his ability to write captivating and atmospheric songs in which it is the instruments that are the true torchbearers of what the music is all about. When combined, they tell a story even without the ability to truly decipher Marshall’s lyrics, and make for an excellent companion for those long, dark and cold winter nights.

With Fuath’s “II” you get a well-rounded, thoroughly enjoyable, and well-crafted and -produced atmospheric black metal album. I have a hard time putting a finger on what exactly it might be lacking, but all I can come up with is that it is in my humble opinion, it is only a very good piece of music without being truly great. As it seems from my recent reviews, the black metal genre is continuing to put out impressive records this year as well, and although I’d highly recommend “II” to any fan of the genre, there’s already stuff out there from 2021 that is better. Marshall has nonetheless managed to create a rock-solid outing, and I’m certain I’ll keep returning to the likes of “The Pyre” for years to come. But hey, this review shouldn’t be viewed as a negative stance at all, as “II” is still an impressive record, and as it looks already, another piece of making 2021 into another hell of a year for black metal. So give Fuath’s latest creation a god, because it’s still without a doubt up there among the finest.


Download: The Pyre, Essence, Prophecies, Into the Forest of Shadows
For the fans of: Burzum, Drudkh, Saor, Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone, Wolves in the Throne Room
Listen: Facebook

Release date 19.03.2021
Season of Mist

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