In addition to ringing up some top notch black metal, Dutch act Fluisteraars brings an interesting little what’s-in-a-name situation. On one hand, they missed the boat just a tad. “Fluisteraars” is Dutch for “whisperers,” but a more apt name may have been whatever word translates to “the whispered.” Their music gives off the sense of being quietly, secretly implanted into the minds of its composers, as if the band’s muses whispered their inspiration, and the result is debut Dromers.
On the other hand, “whisperers” is actually a pretty good name for these Netherlandians, as their mixture of most things melancholic in the blackened realms is more suited to a particular form of relaxation than it is pulling a Yasiel Puig. Early Drudkh, the blacker side of Agalloch, and the slower, grayer aspects of 90s Burzum are all obvious influences, but also present are an underlying sense of folk and even the slightest shade of Dissectionian neoclassicism, if only as the tiniest part of certain melodies and waltzish rhythms.
Opener “De Doornen” kicks off with a very Det som engang var-era Burzum riffiness, but a shift into acoustic material quickly reveals the band’s tendency to change moods and styles on a whim, even if certain transitions are less than grandiose in nature. At first glance, “De Doornen” really shows Fluisteraars to be a band less concerned with creating some massive dynamic swell over the song’s 16 minutes than with making sure each and every section is both interesting and infinitely enjoyable. For the first several minutes, it appears as if the track is merely a suite of these varying ideas, swapping out the Burzumish riffage with Agallochian melodies most similar to the band’s early material or even 2012’s gorgeous Faustian Echoes. However, as alternate versions of a sweeping, chilling motif are presented in the song’s latter half, it becomes clear that this is a deceptively well-composed song. Besides, regardless of whether each and every second seems essential to the success of the whole, it’s just so goddamn nice on the ears.
The other two tracks of the sub-35 minute Dromers lean more heavily on Autumn Aurora and The Swan Road-era Drudkh. Fluisteraars employs the time-honored tradition of repetitive, hypnotic themes to great success, revealing great skill for turning a haunting chord progression while adding in the slightest variations to maintain a slightly dynamic sensibility. The real kicker is when the band injects something massive into their somber landscapes, such as the absolutely monstrous tremolo/blast combo towards the beginning of “Kuddedier.” The theme is abandoned as suddenly as it is introduced, but nonetheless leaves its shadow over the remainder of the track.
This will undoubtedly trigger the “unoriginal-black-metal-band-gets-praise-while-unoriginal-death-metal-band-gets-blasted” reflex backlash from readers, but oh well, it’s the nature of the beast. Derivative death metal often just sounds like the work of troglodytes, while black metal of this sort – regardless of ingenuity – often sounds majestic and inspired. Dromers is this and more, initially seeming like nothing more than a collection of great riffs and melodies, but eventually revealing itself to be an entrancing, mysterious listening experience. Fluisteraars isn’t likely to usher in some new era of black metal, but they will surely bring more than just casual joys to a hefty chunk of the fan base.