Monday, April 2, 2012

Fester - A Celebration of Death [2012]

Originally known as Heroic Conduct and formed in 1989, I know little about the Norwegian four-piece that is Fester. Apparently they’ve been around for quite a while already, so they’re no newcomers to the scene, but I have not listened to anything previous of theirs. “A Celebration of Death” is actually their third full-length album, having had a period of absence since the release of their second full-length in 1994. In 2010 these Norwegians released a compilation album, and two years later, “A Celebration of Death” was released upon the masses. Fester play a peculiar and rather distinct style of death metal, mixing in a strong doom influence with their overall raw death metal atmosphere. In place of fast blast beats and furious, crushing guitars, here lie dark riffs laced melancholy and a prevailing doom ambiance. Now signed with Abyss Records, Fester have released an interesting album where dark riffs and a filthy style of black/death infused with a lot of doom creates a disparate sound, even though most of it has been heard before. It is simply the way that they play it that makes it different.

Fester obviously focus on the more atmospheric side of metal rather than the speed and the aggression, and it clearly shows on the album. Their dark and somber riffs work in unison with the agony-filled and gravelly, harsh vocals to create a more palpable result, and when taking into account their love for very doom-paced slow speeds, it makes all the more sense. There is also an overt industrial influence they draw from, especially evident in the jazzy drumming and some of their more awkward riff styles that pop up from time to time. The industrial influence is further accentuated by the production of the album and the sound of the guitars, in addition to the way they actually play their riffs. (Intro to “I'll Hunt You Down” is especially industrial, or “Jeg spytter på deg”). There’s not very much variation, however, and most of their riffs keep along that same doomy black/death style. After about midway through the album, their music starts to get increasingly boring and uninteresting as it progresses until the end; they probably would’ve benefited from some small increase in speed, at least.

Fester rely on heavy repetition to render their specifically brooding sound, and even though they capture it successfully, it causes their music to be extremely redundant. Especially on the longer tracks of the album, Fester often tend to drag out some of their riffs and keep them going at the same sludgy pace for much more time than is actually needed. As a result, the inevitable effect is that of a listener getting itchy for the pace to grow just a little bit faster, as it did with me. Songs like “March of Death” get extremely tiring after about the first three minutes, let alone the five more that remain. All in all, however, “A Celebration of Death” has definitely achieved as intended, and it’s by no means a generic album, for which I duly credit the band. Long-time fans of Fester will surely find pleasure in this, after having waited since 1994 for another album… and people like me will probably be quite surprised at what Fester have to offer, since their take on black/death bears little resemblance to other bands of the genre.



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