Fer De Lance – The Hyperborean Review

From the mean streets of Chicago come the epic doom metal warriors in Fer De Lance, out to conquer the world and fly the banners of trveness for all the world to see. Featuring members of Satan’s Hallow and Professor Emeritus, Fer De Lance rock a sound blending elements of Atlantean Kodex, Visigoth, Crypt Sermon, and Bathory, with folk elements woven through reminiscent of SIG:AR:TYR. If that sounds like a winning stew of influences, you aren’t wrong. The Hyperborean (read as: Northern Conan) is a rich tapestry of muscular machismo, with chest-thumping battle anthems and tales of high adventure awaiting the bold at every side quest. But are these upstart crusaders ready for a prime spot in the high arena? We must test their metal and weigh their mega-ton swords to know.

After a moody, folksy intro that reeks of John Boorman’s epic Excalibur film, we go once again into the breach with the 8-plus minutes of “The Mariner.” The Atlantean Kodex vibes are strong enough to vibrate molars as acoustic leads race alongside thunderous riffs, powerful war drums and MP Papai’s (ex-Professor Emeritus) wails and roars about trials and tribulations most vexatious. His vocals aren’t far from Jake Rogers of Visigoth and they ground the larger-than-life composition in the gore and grit of the battlefield. The overall sound is that of Bathory’s Hammerheart era, with a slightly muddy, raw finish to the music, which only adds to the badassery. It’s quite the impressive slab of tune tonnage, if a bit long in the war tooth. Better still is the more aggressive, black metal-inflected punch of “Ad Bestias,” where MP really gets to project and command the field. This is so deep in the wheelhouse of Steel, that whomsoever pulls it out becomes the Ruler of Strong Island. It’s the kind of song I live to lift to and I’m willing to bend the knee in respect. Also of high born lineage is the doomy, epic dirge of “Sirens” where Crypt Sermon and Bathory influences fight for all eternity. There’s a kind of regal grandiosity to this one that really grabs the listener, with eerie female chants floating in the air as MP rages against the dying of his ship on the rocks of destiny. This is what trve metal is all about, folks!

Sadly, the band can’t keep the campaign’s momentum moving forward, and lesser cuts like “Northern Skies” and “Arctic Winds” dampen the album’s overall mammothness. Not that either song is bad, they just can’t measure up to what comes earlier and show more cracks in the armor, especially “Northern Skies” which has some awkward, clunky moments. Ginormous 11-minutes closer “The Hyperborean” rights the ship and provides all the precious metal a trve warrrior could ever need, but there’s some bloat around the sword handles and it could use 1-2 minutes shaved off. At nearly 53 minutes, The Hyperborean feels a bit zaftig by the time you hit the home stretch, and several songs could be reduced by a minute or more. When the band hits their stride though, it’s bold and fookin’ massive.

I enjoyed MP Papai’s work with Professor Emeritus and I enjoy him even more in this format. He uses a range of styles from classic doom singing to harsh bellows and quasi-death roars, and it all works. He has the right sound and delivery for the large-scale songcraft involved and enough macho heft to make you believe he could wield any manner of bladed instruments ov death. MP and J. Giest churn out righteous epic doom riffs aplenty while Mandy Martillo compliments them with folksy acoustic guitar lines similar to what SIG:AR:TYR do, and this often works to great effect. These acoustic lines are used smartly throughout the album, but not overused or made to feel like a gimmick. The sound is rounded out well by a thunderous drum performance by Scud, who clearly attended the Scott Columbus School of Kit Destruction.

There are a lot of good things going on with Fer De Lance’s full-length debut, with a few flaws holding it back from greatness. The potential can be heard on the better cuts and that potential is huge. With more consistent song-crafting and a bit more self-editing, this will be an act to fear and dread. They have my full attention and I eagerly await the next inwasion.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Cruz Del Sur
Websites: ferdelancemetal.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/ferdelanceetal
Releases Worldwide: April 22nd, 2022

« »