Der Weg einer Freiheit - Finisterre 01Expectations can be a real sonuvabitch for a music critic, and while I typically approach albums with a tempered outlook, my whirlwind relationship with Germany’s Der Weg einer Freiheit’s music made it impossible to withhold any preconceptions. I had no clue they existed until Season of Mist included a free copy of their 2015 album Stellar with my order of the most recent Great Old Ones album; to say I fell for DWeF hard and fast from there would be an understatement. Their sound is an excellent encapsulation of the dynamic nature of modern black metal, splicing post-black sensibilities with melodic bombastic and explosive drum performances. Due to the misguided hype, their fourth LP, Finisterre, was inescapably disappointing for my first few spins; much of what I love about Der Weg einer Freiheit’s prior album’s just isn’t here. With time, though, Finisterre blossomed into what I now regard as a complicated work of heartbreaking beauty, becoming the most impressive “grower” of the year in the process.

My initial hangups with this record can be traced to its seemingly ambiguous personality. DWeF’s last two albums were impressive displays of naked, conflicted emotion; their melodies were gorgeous and tragic, victorious and mournful. Finisterre, on the other hand, offers no easy answers. It by no means pigeonholes itself into a post-black aesthetic, but the album owes noticeably more to post-black metal than the band’s older material. The atmosphere that the resulting spacey tremolo lines conjure is undoubtedly downbeat, but it’s also guarded, with a tangible sense of trepidation forcing honest feelings below surface level. Occasionally, though, its true colors bubble to the surface in a fashion that is both satisfyingly dramatic and achingly human, with the sorrowful finale of “Ein letzter Tanz” in particular providing a surprisingly melodic payoff. This stunning level of emotional intricacy, while not immediately fulfilling, makes for an album that grows more rewarding with every single listen.

Yet in true DWeF fashion, Finisterre is just as concerned with kicking your ass as much as it is with shredding your optimism; the exhilarating blastbeats and second wave hellishness that follow and contradict the summery opening chords of “Aufbruch” see to that. This stark duality of icy aggression and modern black metal sensibilities defines Der Weg einer Freiheit, and despite a notable melodic and tonal shift from their past efforts, the band has barely tinkered with their execution from a mechanical standpoint. They still deal in insurmountable walls of guitars and lengthy, complex songs, and while there is little I would change about this formula, the longer compositions occasionally fail to deliver a fully satisfying conclusion. The title track, for instance, starts off strong with a wonderfully creepy riff that eventually crashes into a basement of cacophonic horrors, but from its midpoint onward the song eases towards a melancholic conclusion that, though pretty, feels a touch anticlimactic.

Der Weg einer Freiheit - Finisterre 02

What does leave me wholly satisfied, as is always the case with DWeF, are the performances. I’m drawing a blank in thinking of a drummer in the current black metal scene superior to Tobias Schuler. Despite dialing back his death metal fills, his performance is as nuanced as ever, frequently accentuating the music with catchy high hat patterns and seamlessly executing tangents into free-form prog excursions with impressive fluidity. Nikita Kamprad provides the guitar performances with an exceptional ear for riff layering and unconventional harmony, all while covering vocal duties and all aspects of the production sans mastering. Speaking of production, Finisterre’s engineering is likely to cause some friction among DWeF’s fans. It certainly has a primal, visceral sound when contrasted with their typically modern sounding production jobs, and while I love the natural pop of the drums, the layered guitars sound noticeably cramped during the most intense passages. Even so, the tones are universally great, and the bass rarely gets lost in the mix despite the frequent chaos.

While it doesn’t quite reach the same cathartic peaks as Der Weg einer Freiheit’s last two albums, Finisterre stands with BorisDear as one of the most emotionally resonant metal records of the year, and it’s a fantastic display of musicianship to boot. After almost ten full listens I feel like I’ve only just begun to fully appreciate its intricacies, a sure sign that DWeF will continue to grow as an emotionally and compositionally complex example of modern black metal in years to come. If you’re looking for an atmospheric black metal album that rewards repeat listens in spades without skimping on aggressive thrills, don’t miss this one.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: derwegeinerfreiheit.de |  derwegeinerfreiheit.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/derwegeinerfreiheit
Releases Worldwide: August 25th, 2017

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  • AndySynn

    So you’re saying it’s good, but not… stellar?

    • a glass o’ milk

      oh you….

      • Eldritch Elitist

        I mean, obvious joke aside, I really do love this album – just not quite as much as Stellar. It’s still likely to make my year-end list, even though it doesn’t quite reach 4.0 status for me. Not yet at least.

        • welyyt

          Does the mastering on the new TGOO still bother you? I agree it’s not great, but it grew on me because the music rocks.

          • Eldritch Elitist

            I’m way overdue to return to it – I listened to it a couple of times in my car after I got my CD copy in the mail and haven’t listened to it since. Might give it a spin today!

  • welyyt

    Black, German, tasteful drumming, melodic screams in the chorus, occasional cleans, 45 minutes, DR7, Season of Mist…this smells like AOTY material. Great stuff.

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      YA WOHL! ALBUM DES JAHRES

      • sir_c

        Die Fleischkanone salutieren Sie!

    • AgonMcDuck

      Idk if it’s making my top ten, with so many good picks fighting for so few slots (Dodecahedron, Bestia Arcana, and Impure Wilhelmina are probably my top three in some order) but it has a pretty strong chance. Season of Mist are on fire right now.

  • Daniribalbert

    This is definitelly showing up in my top 10 album of the year list. It keeps getting better with each listen. I would dare to go for a 4.0 or even 4.5

  • Meat Tornado

    This review is pretty much word for word what I would say. I have the exact same feelings about it on every level. At the moment I’d also rate it 3.5, but every time I listen I find more and like it more. Maybe with more time it will earn a higher score. It’s that level of intricacy this band is so good at though

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    FVCK YEAH! DEINE OMA MASTURBIERT IM STEHEN!

    • Keep your brutalist pants on.

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        SORRY BUT ITS THE ONLY GERMAN CURSE THAT I KNOW

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Bez peněz do hospody nelez! No, wait, that’s Czech…. Scheisse!

          • Faen, Satan i Helvete! (Norwegian, but it’s a Germanic language)

        • drug_genosh

          Deine mütter!

    • sir_c

      Harry, hol schon mal den Wagen

    • Kosher Warrior

      Ja das ist gut.

  • Master of Muppets

    Season of Mist’s roster is 666% unfuckwithable. This was only ever going to be awesome.

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      SCHWARZ THRASH DRESCHEN WICHSEN WERFEN VERDEHEN ZUCKEN

      • welyyt

        you are on fire today, dude

      • Master of Muppets

        You’re probably right.

    • Oversimplifying Man

      Season of Mist has really cool stuff to follow .

      • Master of Muppets

        Absolutely, plus they’re wicked fast and reliable with shipping.

  • wayne the devil

    Lernen Sie die Möglichkeit des Teufels……good album. Strong Friday releases…

  • AgonMcDuck

    So glad to see a well-written review of this record. I’m admittedly overenthusiastic about it, even if it is the first I’ve heard of this band, but I’ve been loving it since its release. Nikita Kamprad’s lead tones are some of the best I’ve heard all year–“Skepsis” has been playing in my head since I picked up the CD. And the drumming sounds so damn good. It’s like 55 minutes with the rerecording of “Neubeginn” and I find myself wanting more.

    Also, I am losing all my money to Season of Mist. They’re not perfect, but hot damn if it doesn’t feel like all the good shit comes from them.

    • Master of Muppets

      My inbox is loaded with “Season of Mist has sent you a package” emails, and I get overly excited at each one every time.

  • Finisterre is a very atmospheric album with rather good melodies and moods. In the right state of mind, the album is ever so relaxing, but it doesn’t contain any huge surprises.

    The execution and quality is of course impeccable. Still, its slightly monotonous post-metallic expression don’t impress me quite as much as previously.

    I give it 3 points on the AMG scale.

    • sir_c

      So that is like six stars Amazon rating

  • sir_c

    I heard one song randomly coming by at Deezer a few days ago, and I instantly listened the whole album subsequently.
    When you look at the individual ingredients, it may not look like something special, but what DWEF have made is fucking tasty though.

  • Arjan Zwamborn

    I really dug Stellar, but these friendly neighbours completely disappeared from my radar after 2015. This review is both a great introduction to a new album by DWEF, as well as a reminder to spin Stellar some more soon :-)

  • Slam Grandpa

    Oh yeah I loved Stellar a bunch, was even my fave album from 2015 so I get you, but I love the effort the dudes put behind this album so I still like it too! Thanks for reviewing, one of my Top 3 albums from August (along with Leprous and Pyrrhon)

  • Jack Outjers

    Those drums… badass

  • This is great. I haven’t heard or heard of these guys before, but after giving most of the new album a listen I decided to flick through the back catalogue. I enjoyed everything I heard.

    It’s always nice to discover a new band with a quality back catalogue.

  • JL

    It’s good but not worthy of the mega hype/praise it’s getting.

  • Aguy

    This is really quite pleasant so far. I feel like it would be enhanced by a fruity red and a hot tub, or vice versa.

  • ben

    This is a grower. I was a little less than thrilled at first. Now I regard as a top release this year. It sounds like a desolate winter landscape. And the drumming….my lord

  • Treble Yell

    This is a very good album and an improvement over their predecessor. Really enjoying it. Album art is fantastic to boot.