When Jason asked me if I was interested in reviewing an album for a “primitive black metal” band, I said sure, because that sounded like something I’d be into. Going into Folge Dem Wind’s newest, “To Summon Twilight”, I assumed that “primitive black metal” would sound something like Fauna’s The Hunt, and/or incorporate a lot of percussive elements and focus on the toms.
After listening to the album several times, I’ve come to the conclusion that, while I still am not sure what primitive black metal is, “To Summon Twilight” is one of the most original things I’ve heard in a long time. Hailing from France (I am convinced that France is the hotbed of the best new black metal), FDW blends the dissonance so typical of black metal from their homeland with a variety of other sounds to create an album that is extremely innovative.
When the album started out, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot- the first track, “Eyes Filled With Blood”, is probably one of my least favorite tracks. It led me to believe that the album was going to sound a lot like our kind of woodsy black metal from the United States, which I like but am currently a little tired of. However, with each and every second the album grew on me more and more, and by partway through the second track, I was sold. While parts of the opening track sound like they were influence by black metal from the States, it also draws influence from traditional black metal, incorporating lots of tremolo picking and a mid-paced section that relies heavily on the tri-tone.
Whereas I didn’t feel usually like “primitive” was the word I would use to describe To Summon Twilight, the song “To The Void” certainly put me in the mind of that. Probably my favorite track on the album, the song starts off with a quiet, pretty intro followed by a heavy, percussive beat and the vocalist howling like a wolf.
It’s incredibly raw, and the track shifts several more times by its finish, incorporating several different styles in its imitation of the Void. The title track is another of my favorites on the album; churning and chaotic, it builds nicely throughout the length of the song. Also, I really like the vocals in this track, with the vocalist snarling in some parts and almost throat singing in others.
The vocals throughout “To Summon Twilight” are really interesting and varied. As you probably have figured out by now, I’m a geek for a good vocalist, and I love the variety used on this album. The vocals comprise everything from whispers to raw screams; in places the screams remind me a lot of Kim Carlsson’s from Lifelover, another of my favorite vocalists, in that they are just unrestrained and hysterical sounding. Several of the tracks also feature chanting, which provides a cool contrast with the screamed vocals, especially as they are often played against each other.
Likewise, I was really impressed with the percussive elements on this album. I expected lots of toms, as I mentioned above, due to the label of “primitive black metal,” but the drums also feature a lot of snare in places, giving the music a march-like feel (the title track, once again, provides a good example of this). The bass also plays a really cool role in “To Summon Twilight”; it isn’t mixed out completely like in a lot of black metal, but rather helps to provide a strong foundation that sometimes is more of the central focus than the guitars. The chants that recur throughout the album also strengthen the overall percussive feel and lending a trancelike sound to some of the longer passages- the last track, “On Dark Paths Our Faith Stays Strong”, provides a good example of this.
The production on the disk is very well done, especially considering all of the elements that have to be mixed just so. It was mastered by Tom Kvålsvoll, who has worked with Emperor and Dimmu Borgir, and this choice seems to be a logical one- both Emperor and Dimmu also require careful mixing due to the symphonic elements in their work, particularly if those elements are rendered live. I particularly like the way that the vocals blend with the percussion in the more trance-like moments of the album.
The cover art is delightfully creepy, as it features a man hanging against a black background. It is difficult to see how or why he is hanging, but his eyes are closed as though he is asleep or meditating. I immediately thought of the way blood is drained from animals in slaughterhouses, as it looks like he is streaked with something; that would fit nicely with the concept of sacrifice and summoning. Although perhaps it is simply a visual representation of the rejection of modern humanity that the band attempts to bring across in their music.
I really love this album, and I’m looking forward to checking out some of Folge Dem Wind’s older material. Refreshing and original, “To Summon Twilight” is a dark celebration of the brooding chaos that humans only hope to suppress.