I’m always a bit wary when diving into a long-form black metal release. They can be notoriously tricky to understand, if there’s anything worth understanding at all. Too repetitive, the band can fall deep into the atmospheric camp that worships minimalism, time-constraints and intrigue be damned. Too upbeat, both the musicians and the listener get worn out by the seven-minute mark. On Dromers though, this new Dutch trio finds that perfect balance which reveals a neatly set structure hidden behind the long, vocal-less breaks. Drifting back and forth between a few simple, yet powerfully crafted ideas, Fluisteraars execute them flawlessly with the kind of precision not usually achieved on a debut.
Kicking off a 16-minute song with a straightforward, punky riff didn’t do anything to quell my initial fears, and I sat with bated breath, knowing the next couple minutes could make or break the album. As the song quickly transitions into a slower melodic dirge and I struggled to contain my excitement, I knew Fluisteraars were doing something special. Their songs hit you with an immediacy and sense of knowing that demands attention and evokes curiosity. You never quite know what’s about to happen, and it’s this exact sense of surprise and wonder that makes Dromers something special. This isn’t Burzum worship, marketed with a promise of atmosphere hidden beneath a lo-fi mess. Nor does it have post-rock leanings that uses instrumental jam-sessions in lieu of effective songwriting. Fluisteraars have a bigger, more meaningful picture in mind, and they’re painting a hauntingly beautiful one.
The few but effective transitions and ever-evolving ideas help Fluisteraars dance a fine line between multiple subgenres within the black arts with impressive results. A far cry from bleak, cold Nordicisms, the music takes a softer, more somber approach despite the direct heavy hitting of the opening. All of Dromers continues in this fashion, bringing an almost hopeful air to the record despite the fact that it that it remains at its core a grim, intense affair. “Kuddedier” especially reminds of early Drudkh, but with even more passion that’s coaxed forth by the utterly astonishing production. I’m a sucker for a beefed-up rhythm section in this type of music, and the full-length rewards with a low end that not only gives the album more weight, but gives that added nuance of getting lost in an instrument other than your standard six-string. Tracks as a whole are largely pointless though, as the album is so well-balanced and interconnected that an uninterrupted listen results in a singular, masterful piece of art.
Truly the first big surprise of the year, I’ve already found myself returning to Dromers more times than I can count. It’s at once uplifting and relaxed, familiar yet deeply strange. Impossibly rewarding, it’s a showcase of musicians who have that rare power to grasp the listener and make them remember what they love about music in the first place.
[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]