Ever wondered what hell the unholy union of Germany’s Dark Fortress and Secrets of the Moon would spawn? Alright, now let’s make things a little more interesting and maybe just a little more sordid. Let’s bring in Sweden’s Naglfar and turn this into a lascivious little three-some. Taking it a step further, ever wondered what their bastard child would sound like? Well here you have it! Eudaimony is the spawn of just such an unholy, messy union, with former Dark Fortress front man Matthias Jell (Azathoth) on vocals, Naglfar’s Marcus E. Norman on guitars, bass and synthesizer and Secrets of the Moon‘s Jörg Heemann (Thrawn Thelemnar) on drums. Being a fan of Pariah and Shoel era Naglar and Seven Bells era Secrets of the Moon, and that Eudaimony boasts that Futile fits snugly between the realm of traditional black metal and the dark, depressive suicidal black metal genres, I was compelled to spin this misbegotten album. After doing so I have to say, Futile is definitely not your average début.
From Ben Borucki’s (Sonic Reign) bleak album art which suggests happiness is just illusionary and our fragile lives start to end the very instant we first draw breath, to the stark opening strains of “Ways to Indifference” encompassing a sense of escalating hopelessness; Eudamony‘s music is all about emotional despondency and the futility of life. The further you trudge into “Ways to Indifference” the more Jell’s horse, anguished ministrations get under your skin. His singing style on tracks like “Mute,” “futile” and “Cold” reminds me of a brew of Watain, Urgehal and Ragnarok while still managing to sound individually Eudaimony.
The guest vocals of Antimatter‘s Mick Moss on “Portraits” add an almost broken Watain “They Rode On” or Shining (Swedish) “For My Demons” shift, leaving you believing Moss’s claims that ‘every new day tells me that I break’. The track is stark and riddled with delicate string interludes and I’m glad that Jell didn’t force his vocal style to fit, but rather added variety with Moss’s melancholic vocal chops.
Instrumentally Futile opens you up to a whole new, more subdued, side to Norman (Bewitched, Anchient Wisdom, ex-Naglfar and ex-Anchient) and Heemann (Secrets of the Moon, ex-Bloody Thorns, ex-Debauchery, ex-Krieg). Tracks like “Portraits” and “Cold” have Heemann exercising his demons in a stark, subtle, almost lean way that does indeed compliment the songs. There’s none of the face-peeling attack he delivered in say “Serpent Messiah” off Secrets of the Moon‘s Seven Bells. Heemann is a talented drummer and while he’s successfully brought Eudaimony the plodding sinisterness of Secrets of the Moon, there are times when I want him to deliver more passion. Norman’s cutting, atmospheric guitar and key delivery on tracks like “Mute,” “Godforsaken” and “December´s Hearse” give crushing misery a tangible musical form. He’s carried through and delivered on all the texture of his work on “None Shall be Spared” and Sheol‘s “Black God Aftermath” and left behind the venom.
The vocal recording, mix and mastering of Futile was carried out at Klangschmeide Studio E by Markus Stock of Empyrium fame. He has a long-time history of working with Jell, going back to the days of Dark Fortress‘s Tales From Eternal Dusk. I’m pleased that Markus veered away from the typical black metal low-fi approach on Futile and opted instead for a cleaner recording that highlights the intricate atmospheres crucial to making this album the success it is.
While I mostly see myself spinning this album in its entirety, stand-out tracks include “Ways to Indifference,” “Mute,” “Portraits,” “Cold” and “Godforsaken.” This album’s a tough listen and phrases like ‘things will never be the same again, though I tried to turn back time‘ and ‘Spent a lifetime stuck in silence, no-one there‘ berate and hatefully criticize. Futile hit me right where it hurts!