Fuath – II Review

Representing a darker, meaner interpretation of black metal, Andy Marshall, better known for Saor, unleashed his Fuath (Gaelic for hatred) project around now over 5 years ago (fuck me, my life’s getting away from me). I excelled in black atmosphere and understated but sticky melodies and remains one of the decade’s better examples of atmospheric black metal, in a sub-genre full to the brim with mediocrity. It was intended to be a one-off but the inspirationally-entitled II is now primed for release. What now for Scotland’s premier black metal maestro?

On the basis of the forested, snowy artwork and exciting Roman numerals of the title, you should not be surprised to hear that II also boasts black metal of the atmospheric variety. It’s angrier and bleaker than Saor, with guttural shrieks and many fewer folksy and synth-based embellishments. Dark though Fuath is, the guitars convey a strong sense of melody. A typical passage features the background buzzing of Norwegian-influenced tremolo-picking but also a melodic top layer which controls the music. The vocals are good but the remaining instrumentation is otherwise not much to write home about; II is all about its guitars. The very thin line between enjoyable and dreary music is as simple as a strong melody. I’ve heard so much bland atmospheric black metal which is stylistically almost identical to this except that this largely gets its melodies right. It evokes Windir in its atmosphere and melody which is more or less the optimal comparison for a band of this ilk.

Per its native ‘atmoblack’ scene, II’s song structures are simple. The introduction of the opener called “Prophecies” repeats the same melodic sequence for a minute before moving on, setting its core motif. The song returns to this several times with subtle variations, generally shifting gears every minute or so. On first listen I wasn’t impressed as the songs seemed long-winded and repetitive, but with time the melodies have sunk their hooks. I now find myself humming along to the core melodies regularly. You could argue that humming along is not what black metal should be about and that it indicates a lack of impact, but I would counter that it’s due to my (and metalheads’ generally) atypical normalisation of extreme music. What would be unlistenable to my normie friends is pleasantly melodic to me and makes for engaging background music.

My two points so far – the prevalence of the guitars with the languid song development and repetition – indicate that II is a one-dimensional release. There’s no particular focus on rhythmic riffs, commanding drumming, vocal diversity or dynamic song-writing. Other than a few exceptions which do no more than prove the rule, it wholly relies on its atmospheric, melodic guitar lines. Such exceptions include the proper riff opening “Endless Winter,” the softly murmured vocals on “Prophecies” and the quiet interlude on “Into the Forest of Shadows.” But these only highlight the inflexible formula otherwise apparent. Therefore, where the record proffers a less memorable lead, such as on “Into the Forest of Shadows,” it has nothing to fall back on to demand my attention and it wanders. While mastered dynamically, the production compounds this as the drums are quite loud in the mix which is unusual for black metal. This loudness accentuates how simple the drums truly are and that II has little beyond its guitars.

Fuath have written a simple record. The songs are constructed around a couple of core melodies which are repeated to a fairly significant extent. Your mileage will therefore vary depending on your existing predilection for atmospheric black metal. The melodies are good enough for II to be a worthy addition to a black metal fan’s library but non-believers won’t find much to convert them. As for me, I still find Marshall’s knack for melodies compelling and it’s a solid if unspectacular successor to his sharp debut under this moniker.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: facebook.com/fuath | fuath.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: March 19th, 2021

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