Foscor – Els Sepulcres Blancs Review

Two years ago I was hooked by Foscor’s Les Irreals Visions. The proud Catalans presented a varied mix of all things melancholic, dreamy and depressive. It was a strong and well-unified record which balanced the line between extreme metal and rock with tact and imagination. I was surprised when I found out they’d been around since ’97; Foscor just seemed to pop up out of nowhere. The 2014 release These Horrors Wither, their fourth full-length, bridged the gap between the black metal sound of their formative years and the softer outlook of their latter. In between Les Irreals Visions and Els Sepulcres Blancs Foscor went soft, presenting a reinterpreted version of Les Irreals Visions: the original. It was a sullen and tender version which saw the band digging deeper into their bag of subletly. However it lacked the hooks and punch of the original album. With Els Supulcres Blancs it’s interesting to witness the direction the band are taking.

To be brief, Els Sepulcres Blancs attempts to balance the heavy-rock tones of the original Visions and the soft acoustic passages of Visions re-interpreted. Interestingly, despite there being a much more relaxed tone throughout the record, Foscor rely heavily on intense spurts of drumming which underpin a lot of the movements. These drum passages are strange in their light burst and flutter. They have a hollow woodiness like some sort of ritualistic throb. In the opening moments of lead track “Laments,” atop light wavering guitars and delicate clean vocals, the drums carry most of the weight, constantly rolling and tapping. Drumming intensifies to the point where blasts, bass thunder and hi-hat smashes smother the delicacy of guitar and vocals. “Els Colors del Silenci” is similarly opposing; dreamy shoegaze elements soften the vocals and give the guitars a harp-like quality, however there’s a constant furor beneath as drums rumble and a thick bass guitar tone muscles through. This relationship works very well in “Els Colors del Silenci.” The track culminates harmoniously as a traditionally rocky guitar solo scythes through the mix.

The tracks that succeed the most don’t try to combine too much. “Cel Rogent” is discernibly more intense than other tracks on the record. It stays the course, maintaining a dark and aggressive tone throughout. Guitars and vocals work in unity with the thick blackened drumming: vocalist Fiar merges subtle snarls with his lofty cleans and the lead guitar screeches with more of a downbeat, aggrieved feel. It builds and loops and ends with brief soloing that ties up all ends. “Malson,” the opposite of “Cel Rogent” in tone, is similar with the direction it takes: it maintains a feeling and succeeds in building it up. Its somber sadness steadily ripples throughout; it’s a fragile track that, although restrained and simple, manages to evoke emotions that most other tracks on the album fail to rouse.

The album lacks the regular crunch and gut punch of previous releases. Blackened sections are rare and when they do appear, like in the tepid plod of “Secrets,” they’re brief, more of a shoehorned accessory. Instead, Foscor choose to dwell in lengthier territories which again fail to evoke much. Songs fail to differentiate themselves enough for the record to feel like it’s moving forward and the longer songs suffer from a lack of potency. By the end of the record (37 minutes) it feels like not a lot has happened; there’s a lack of discernible beginnings and endings. Perhaps the greatest drawback is the lack of powerful hooks and melodies. “Canco de Mort,” as an example, feels like the pre-show to a  main event that doesn’t appear. It’s not bad at all. In fact it builds very well but, at the moment when a crescendo of sound or a powerful switch in key or tone should occur, it ends.

Closer “L Esglai” achieves a greater sense of closure, but again the punch it packs feels too similar to the opening tracks for it to root itself. Les Irreals Visions had multiple powerful moments which sent a song spiraling into exciting territories; Els Supulcres Blancs is more restrained, perhaps more mature, but lacks that sense of excitement which differentiates it. Songs don’t stand out as much; in my mind, Foscor are at their best when writing tight songs, not dragging sounds out for seven minute stretches. That’s not to say this isn’t a good album, it just fails to maintain energy over 37-minutes.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Releases Worldwide: September 6th, 2019

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