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Laster – Ons Vrije Fatum
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In 2014, DUNKELHEIT released LASTER’s debut album, De verste verte is hier, and it went on to be hailed as a visionary work of modern black metal, blending grimness and gorgeousness in equal measure. Here on Ons vrije fatum, the Dutch trio strive for an even bolder vision, maximizing the emotional pull of its epic predecessor by reigning in song lengths to more digestable trajectories whilst exploring an even wider expanse of sonic/atmospheric possibility. It’s a record that explodes with a harrowing harshness, particularly in the vocal department, but which peels back its layers as the album progresses – and yet adds more, mysterious layers during its duration. Its violence, its ceaseless sturm und drang, is firmly rooted within black metal, but LASTER's increasingly ambitious approach strives for hinterlands of the soul & spirit not conventionally nor conveniently labelled “black metal.”
With this strive, Ons vrije fatum sends one cascading wave of autumnal, almost-baroque bliss after another; tension builds and builds, a hysteric and nearly wounded sense of grimness, and then is released with spiraling swooshes of clean-guitar overlay and brooding bass-work, all to be built up again and explored in myriad manners. And although the four-song De verste verte is hier maintained a most epic aspect, with three of those four songs exceeding 10 minutes, here LASTER manage to move adeptly across comparatively more compact songwriting – never settling for too long, nor moving too quickly away from a potentially awe-inspiring construct – all the while adding subtle flourishes of electronics and even saxophone.
Through it all, Ons vrije fatum maintains a production that ably balances grit and gleam, grounded in the dirt and yet eyes wide open to the sun-setting horizon. With aesthetic ties to Agalloch, Strid, and early Ulver, nowhere this year will you find a more penetrating emotional rollercoaster than LASTER's Ons vrije fatum. (Text by Nathan Birk)
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