Fluisteraars – Gegrepen door de geest der zielsontluiking Review

Fluisteraars was undoubtedly my biggest surprise discovery of 2020. Everything about Bloem was simultaneously right for me and completely wrong for me. But I came back to it, again and again, and finally, it wormed its way onto my year-end list and continues to be a staple of my listening for long walks on the beach side of the road. I was stunned to learn that they had a new album coming this year, but looking forward to new material from these guys. Their eclectic, raw-meets-melodic take on black metal, plus the occasional brass instrument, was enchanting last time. Can Gegrepen door de geest der zielsontluiking live up to its predecessor’s place in my heart?

I’ll answer that later. For now, I want to talk about promotional copy. As we all know, the purpose of promo text is to make the reader excited for the album they’re about to listen to, and entice reviewers to review it. I’m going to be honest with you, though – reading about how the duo recorded one song per day with one take of each instrument recorded through the studio’s own acoustics made me nervous. I feared the album would lose itself in its creators’ desires to be simplistic, minimalistic, and terrifyingly efficient. But I think for the most part the approach pays off – Gegrepen… has a raw, primal atmosphere that allows it to function simultaneously as a work of “raw” black metal and one of unaggressive music. “Het overleugelen der meute” opens the album without preamble, with M. Koops throwing himself into pounding drums and hazy tremolo riffs while B. Mollema screams his heart out. It caught me off-guard on the first listen for certain, but because it isn’t loud or overly brutal, it quickly takes root anyway. It takes a couple of minutes to really get going, but once it does, it’s unmistakably Fluisteraars.

Over thirty-six minutes, Flusteraars express their more primal sound through three songs, at eight, seven, and twenty minutes respectively. “Brand woedt in mijn graf” is the strongest on display, opening with an animalistic shriek and exploring an extreme side of the band without ever losing its grounding in a distinctly melodic style. The symphonic elements of the band’s sound, so prominent on Bloem, are more hidden here, expressed in often-subtle stringed instruments, creating a mystical, triumphant atmosphere that draws the listener in slowly and tricks them into thinking the time is flying by. Gegrepen… isn’t a long album as it is, but it does have a way of flitting by, as the bizarre harmony of Koops’s black metal riffage and skill at whatever stringed instrument it may be, alongside Mollema’s impassioned wails, comes together to form misty forests drenched in haze and mists, with danger lurking in the peripheral vision only.

There is a drawback to all of this raw passion, however: despite Fluisteraars‘s skill with their instruments, Gegrepen… lacks any sort of immediacy, occasionally falling back into being almost background music, especially when the strings are absent. Of course, Bloem has the same feeling but made up for it in acoustic interludes, passages with brass instruments, and an altogether higher intake of melody. Gegrepen pulls back on that style to focus more heavily on the black metal side of Fluisteraars‘s sound without altering their production or mixing to let that metal breathe. So you have drumming that creates noise without impact, and riffs that are often indistinguishable from each other – which, again, is fine, and works for what the band is going for, but robs the album of dimensions that would really prop up and energize the raw feel Fluisteraars are going for here.

Gegrepen door de geest der zielsontluiking, “Grasped by the Spirit of the Budding Soul,” is a phrase of beautiful vision and an album that lives up to it in an unexpected way. The unique vision Fluisteraars brings to their work is always a pleasure to experience, and Gegrepen… does a solid job at exploring a different, more primal element to that experience. It’s easy to compare Gegrepen… to Bloem and find it wanting. But, Gegrepen… is an engaging, rewarding listen from a unique duo who have a great vision for their sound, and whether it’s next year or in another few, I’m looking forward to their next one already.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
LabelEisenwald Records
Websitesfluisteraars.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Fluisteraars
Released Worldwide: August 27th, 2021

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