I love music with a dark feel and vibe to it. The experience is potentially cathartic. The issue with this is the need for direction. Melancholy in music to find its place within composition must find a progression, either musically or thematically. So it is a given that such music need not be inherently easy to compose.
In my exploration of dark sounding metal music, I discovered Foscor and their brand of melancholy in the guise of their new album ‘Els Sepulcres Blancs’. First off as a generalization, I believe you will find that little sad catharsis you are looking for or at least in varying degrees.
‘Els Sepulcres Blancs’ opens up with “Laments”. The opening track vastly comprises of almost unending build-ups and crescendos tied up with melancholic songwriting. The song in itself seems to lose direction with all the build-up but when treated as an inseparable part of the album, it is a fit- a build-up for the latter parts of the album. “Els Colors del Silenci” continues the build-up motif for a bit before breaking up into a progression of blasts, well-blended guitars, deep bass sections for the instrumental sections. The singing follows suit from the first song with clean singing accompanied by harsh undertones. “Malson” heavily orients itself towards the guitars as the guiding motif and everything else builds itself around the guitars well. The simplistic yet effective groove on the drums and the bass add depth to the music as the song progresses towards sections of subtle dissonance.
“Secrets” opens up with the guitars setting up the mood for the song with gentle noises and leads. The song then progresses to an interesting groovy section, almost as if to accompany the singing in what sounds like a rhythmic storytelling section. Maybe all music is an instrument to tell stories but this song makes the storytelling beyond doubt. The album starts getting a little heavier with “Cel Rogent”. This heaviness is coupled with noise generated ambience driven by the guitars. The band’s emphasis on mixing groove with the dark ambience is fully expressed at this point. The music plays itself out on a thin line between a pacey groove and heavy music.
“Cançó de Mort” opens up with some peaceful ambience coupled with a few reversed effects. The rhythm sections find itself situated between build-ups and actual progression. But soon enough the song breaks into pacey sections. At this point, the band establishes its modus operandi in their music. There is, unfortunately, something amiss in between the prolonged build-up feels and the inadequate presentations of continuity in the music. This is certainly a niche taste and it is certainly acquired I suppose. The album closes with “L Esglai”. This is the longest song off the album and probably the best one. The moods of the entire album come together as one here. But as a standout song, “L Esglai” is the most vibrant and colorful of the lot. The lead sections add more voices to the music and the strong rhythm sections and singing make this song the finest of the album.
“Els Sepulcres Blancs” by Foscor is a niche album. This album is not a difficult listen but it isn’t easily enjoyable at first glance either. This album requires time for one to fully get into the music, which is characterized by repetitive motifs and quasi minimalist approach to melody. In its own right, this album is a mood and maybe it isn’t for all. With the repetitive motifs, I think the band knew exactly the sound they wanted and what would be in store for potential listeners. The mix and the production of the album actually really good. The sound sounded heavy and full where it should and there were traces of emptiness in the sound and the mix in places. This suited the compositional direction of the music. Despite being a good mix, the mix is still a niche. Within itself, the music and the sound of it fit well within what the album offers but it sure needs a few spins.