Feb. 28, 2020


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Dutch black metal has been around for almost as long as the genre’s inception in other parts of Europe, but its only been in recent years that the country’s talent has exploded and each album has been a conversation starter.  2020 is proving to be another banner year with the likes of material from Turia, Ossaert, and now FluisteraarsFluisteraars has been one of the most exciting acts to watch, as since their inception in 2009 they’ve expanded their sound outwards towards new horizons.  2018’s De Oord split was a steppingstone in this evolution, which has been brought to its natural conclusion with this year’s Bloem, their third full-length.  Retaining the harsh chill and abrasive edge of black metal while pushing towards brighter melodies and atmosphere that’s equally introspective and psychedelic in equal doses, the writing proves to be truly infectious and unlike anything else that’s currently out there in the black metal genre.

The album cover is likely to give away that this isn’t your average black metal release, as the brighter flowers hint at some of the tones that the music is able to achieve.  While the core of the sound is familiar, with the blasting on songs like “Vlek” coming through with the same precision and dense atmosphere as both the second-wave and Cascadian variants of the genre, Fluisteraars doesn’t stay there for long and always keeps you guessing as to what will come next.  What separates this group from so many of the others out there is how they weave together their hazier melodies and abrasive edges into a single journey that starts off at a high point and only gets stronger the further in you get.  Tracks like “Eeuwige ram” and “Maanruïne” are perfect examples of this, as they’re driven by fuller bass lines and airier guitar melodies that feel like they’re giving off equal amounts of brightness and hope alongside black metal’s pummeling edge.  Rhythmically Fluisteraars also stands out as their arrangements ebb and flow in ways that are far from your standard blasting or mid-tempo attacks, with each song feeling like an adventure that you can get lost in.  Despite the individual pieces being longer the album is compact at thirty-three minutes in length, ensuring that no one idea is overly stretched out and the material remains engaging from beginning to end.

Bob Mollema’s had an approach to vocals that has differentiated the band from many of their peers, and this has only become more apparent throughout Bloem.  He starts off in familiar territory on opener “Tere muur” with an abrasive and raspy scream that cuts through the air like a rusty dagger, but he switches things up shortly after and proves to be a bit more dynamic.  On some songs he screams in a completely different way that comes through closer to a hardcore pitch rather than black metal and some cleaner pitches are also worked into the mix during some of the more introspective and hazy passages, giving the vocals a similar feeling of unpredictability.  The changes often end up being subtle but they open up the sound significantly and give the material even more staying power as new nuances reveal themselves upon repeat listens.

Fluisteraars has pushed themselves to new heights on their third full length and have delivered material that pummels and entrances in equal capacity.  Their album is a testament to how a band can have individual elements that are familiar for black metal but combine them in a way that feels truly fresh and will have listeners hitting the repeat button to get sucked back into time and time again.  Even this early in the year I feel confident saying that this is a serious contender for album of the year and should put this group on the map for anyone that wasn’t aware of them previously.  Bloem is available from Eisenwald.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg

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