Der Weg einer Freiheit has received a fair amount of praise and acclaim in recent memory, with even German legends Kreator calling them the “future of German extreme metal.” And while that may end up being true, fourth album Finisterre actually sees Der Weg einer Freiheit sounding more akin to the French school, weaving melody and atmosphere behind harsh, driving vocals and plenty of drum fills.
Content to muse about the deeper points of life, Der Weg einer Freiheit write lyrics surrounding something long beholden to the German conscious: philosophy. With two full years to write and record, they certainly don’t disappoint in the brainiac department. But, I digress, that’s for Google Translate, or your best German speaking friend/relative to explain.
Label: Season of Mist.
What makes a album great, particularly in this type of metal, isn’t always the lyrics, because who can understand them? (Especially when the band is from a country that speaks a language of which you have absolutely no concept.) Musically, Der Weg einer Freiheit has moved away from the longer atmospheric stretches and non-instrument based affectations. They’ve doubled down on their ability to produce melodic compositions of black metal that emote depressive and forlorn atmospheres without resorting to tricks or gimmicks.
But it’s also their newfound ability to pull back from going full-bore all the time that helps balance Finisterre against their earlier releases. An extended track like “Ein letzter Tanz,” the longest on the album at over 13 minutes, balances clear guitars and mournful single-note bends against more driving passages that refrain from blast beats. Instead, the rhythms are driving, halting to a pace that nears swing. Guitars nearing indie rock-lows of distortion use subtle dissonance and melody to swim towards climaxes and erupt into blasts before decaying into clean guitar harmonies. It’s their ability, potentially newly discovered, to balance these passages that makes their endpoint more effective. Emotions are less in-your-face and more carefully delivered.
There’s also instrumental “Skepsis Part I” that serves to support the band’s musical confidence. Compositionally sound, the usually harsh vocals aren’t missed. In fact, it’s one of the most effective pieces on the record. As it seamlessly falls into “Skepsis Part II,” complete with blasts, an open hi-hat, and a clean guitar picked so cleanly it could be a bugle soaring like a damn eagle over the top. The whole thing feeling a bit like the massiveness of say, The Great Old Ones.
The closing title track is a Cure-like sorrowful-yet-bouncy experience. Undulating across more than eleven minutes, blast beats interlace with halting, chromatic descent that includes vocal breaks and tense restarts. The track eventually falls into a serene, clean melody sans vocals that is enough to lull the listener into a peaceful sense of beauty. Much like the first track, clean vocals act as a choir-like backing for the more harsh vocals up front. But the track eventually builds itself back up with slapping blast beats, march like snare work and eventually a doleful outro handled entirely by violins.
Der Weg einer Freiheit is one smackingly solid band. Whether they are the future of German extreme metal may remains to be seen. But, what we do already know is that Finisterre is a solid work of despondent and rueful black metal that can dramatize a depression or begin a journey into utter catatonic-like mania. In the days of experimentation and one-man basement black metal projects, Der Weg einer Freiheit provides a refreshing and altogether enjoyable take on endless depression.