Monday, 11 May 2020

Fjords - Onirica


Labels: Self-Released
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 22 Nov 2019

Tracklist:

1. Into The Vista
2. Blossom In Rapture
3. Onirica
4. Prometheus
5. Unbound
6. Tides Of The Sea
7. The Godless Shade
8. Ode To The Albatross
9. Polaris

It feels like my whole day has been leading up to this moment. Granted, that day went pretty quickly but after a quietish weekend musically, getting back down to it is much needed. My focus this evening is fixed on UK progressive metal band Fjords, who self-released their debut album in November 2019. They're been compered to Leprous, Novembre and Opeth amongst others and they count them as influences too. I'm excited about this.

When people think of progressive music, they think of long and sometimes noodling songs. They’re right about them being long but in these modern times, the noodling has been replaced by extremity. Fjords are one of the new breed of UK bands that mix progression with both extreme instrumentation and growling/clean vocals. Opening song ‘Into The Vista’ illustrates that perfectly with all of the aforementioned elements being tied together to create something genuinely rousing. The vocals remind me of the likes of My Dying Bride in places too. 

The songs on Onirica vary in length and while some are atmospheric and gloomy in places, they are also upbeat and light in others. ‘Blossom In Rapture’ is a case in point with it’s modern approach, which contains epic melodic guitar work, off-kilter but up-tempo rhythms and an overall musical vision that’s hard to replicate. This is only track number two and already I feel a complete idiot for missing it last year. 

People on the outside looking in often say that metal music doesn’t require any skill, that it’s just noise. Even the most primitive grind and noisy black metal takes some form of genuine skill to perform. Progressive music such as this takes a considerable amount and Fjords demonstrate that skill more than proficiently on title-track ‘Onirica’. The band does feature some very experienced musicians amongst it’s ranks and that experience shows through here. All of a sudden I feel so warm and contented thanks to this record.

‘Prometheus’ is one of the softer songs vocally on Onirica, but that’s only because the melodics vocals are used more often. It’s still a heavy song and when the harsh vocals do kick in, the tempo slows to a slightly more menacing pace. It contains light but you have to reach for it through the dark. What really is engaging though is the musicianship, which one again stands out for it’s quality and for the emotion that it projects. 

In between all of the lengthy numbers comes ‘Unbound’, which is essentially an instrumental interlude that breaks up the album. It works and actually builds a great deal of anticipation for the second half, which begins with ‘Tides Of The Sea’. In fact the former flows into the latter (albeit with a rather off-putting pause between the two, which breaks up the atmosphere). ‘Tides Of The Sea’ itself is another upbeat song that borrows from modern metal, metalcore (in places) and death metal. I guess Fjords have more influences under their sleeves and they use them really well. Being able to use them all and still not be classified within one specific genre/sub-genre means they’re doing everything right.

I can sometimes be accused of using a lot of words to say a little, especially when describing songs and albums but what’s the point in writing a paragraph that doesn’t do it justice when I can write seven! ‘The Godless Shade” made me reflect on how much I write, given how short the average attention span is these days (especially when taking long-form written media into consideration) and I decided to carry on anyway, because this song deserves it. It’s rad and once again shows just how good the UK scene is if you just scratch the surface a little bit. Screw all of those people who stopped listening to music in the 90’s!

Things become oddly mysterious and goth-like at the start of ‘Ode To The Albatross’, which borrows from the Peak District that surrounds Fjords. The Peaceville three also make their presence felt here and while the progression overrides the doom, there are still subtle elements of the latter within this penultimate song. Fjords wait till the end to unleash their most majestic song, in the form of the orchestral ‘Polaris’, which weighs in at over ten minutes in length and sounds truly epic! The opening riffs are simple yet oh so catchy and there’s no point ignoring how they make you feel. They carry on throughout the song, as it gets better in it’s entirety, containing the right balance between dissonance and melody, old-school and modernity. You’re taken on a journey that you won’t want to reach the end of. 

This is an incredible album that deserves a lot more recognition. Fjords, despite being a new name to many (including myself) are destined to be one of the UK’s brightest metal hopes. They just need a leg up and I’m sure you can help make it happen by supporting them and spreading this album as far as possible. 

You can stream Onirica and grab it on CD or as a digital download below:-



Fjords - https://www.facebook.com/fjordsofficial/

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