A new vision to behold! A new whisper from ancient configurations! The master of hallucinogenic poisons and herbs has grown out of the earth's deepest labyrinths once more...
It is quite refreshing to welcome back a band as bizzarely out of tune with the current fashions in music and as completely forgotten by their peers as Fleurety. For years, it's never been really clear as to when exactly the experimentalist duo of Svein Egil Hatlevik and Alexander Nordgaren would make their highly expected return to the scene. Neither did they seem to care spreading optimistic signs of their desire to do so. Well, they finally did it, and here we are treated with 2 re-recorded songs from their past catalogue complemented by one short in-between interlude, a re-entrance I was at first a bit skeptical about to be honest. But as with every Fleurety album, one's initial skepticism is only a reactionary facade for the band to fuck with.
Right from the beginning, the deliberately murky-blurry under production on Descent into Darkness is indeed one mighty departure from their three official releases, though it is certainly done with class. Fleurety going old-school black metal? Striborg on 2C-B? Nah... it's much more than that. At last one gets to hear what the band had in mind in 1993, when they recorded Black Snow, their first and slightly scandalous demo. This song not only drowns into fragmented doom, stadium rock, minimalist prog and atmospheric black metal, but it is also drapped in the most cavernous and cryptic sounds you can imagine. Fleurety at their darkest hour for sure. While Hellhammer keeps the pace enjoyable with catchy double kicks and intricate grooves, Runhild Gammelsæter brings back to life the unique vocals Fleurety had come to be known for, as she sometimes sounds like a squealing and burning tire straight outta Hell's inverted highways. Now that woman is a demented freakshow on her own, isn't she! As for the riffs, well it is Fleurety we are talking about, so it's nothing short of unconventional for the genres between which it alternates, except for the fact that it sounds a little bit more primitive and retro than usual. Keeping in mind this was composed in 1993, one can't help but respect the band's daring creativity and weirdness. Also, the odd production they sticked to with this song gives it an experimental edge which is a bit unsettling at first sight. This is indeed an abrupt descent into darkness, now and then ponctuated by colorful diamonds hidden in the sound's funeral dust.
The second band song to be featured is Absence, a composition I'm sure at least some of you have heard in its original clothing. First, I should warn you that this reinterpretation is significantly different in tone from the "Blackend Vol. 1" 1995 version. Whereas this one was a mesmerizing ballad, the new reworked Absence comes closer to punk and thrash. Only some of the riffs, as far as I know, have been incorporated, but both the tempos and the structures have changed into a more energetic layout. As a matter of fact, this is Fleurety in a rush running after its own tail on amphetamines. The guitars are cutting-edge and riff after riff, the song asks for some grim headbanding; underneath you can hear a certain Petter Bernstein playing bass lines like mad. To top that off, Hatlevik's vocals are as digital-necro as only Zweizz can be, and I also have to highlight the drum performance by Bjeima which makes the song so cool and so spicy in some loose 70's way. Absence may be shorter than Descent into Darkness, but what it lacks in time it gains in musical explosiveness and dynamics. The ending disco part, for instance, could have lasted way longer if you ask me, but I guess that's why the repeat button has been invented in the first place. A very entertaining Fleurety top 10 hit had that ever existed...
I wouldn't know if this is avant-garde metal per se and I honestly don't care. My point is, it sounds like Fleurety had a great time in the studio, invited a few friends and ventured into their mostly unknown past for the better or the worst. In my case I would say it's for the better. To hear these recordings will teleport you back to Norway's nineties, and as such it is an interesting trip not devoid of nostalgia for any black metal fan. Of course I'd also like to hear new and fresh compositions by the band, which would make it easier to review their new standards. Let's wait and see where this immersion into the past might lead our two heros. Hopefully, they will not let us wait for another 10 years until next time.