For years one of Finnish black metal’s best-kept secrets, in recent times have FÖRGJORD sprung to prominence among the adventurous as practitioners as a strangely alluring sort of obsidian. Although existing since the mid ’90s and patiently parceling out their recordings in an almost-clandestine manner, the upswing in activity began with FÖRGJORD’s third album (and first with WEREWOLF), Uhripuu, in 2017 and was followed by the equally challenging Ilmestykset in 2019. Between those two albums, the Finnish trio solidified and strengthened their strident aesthetic – malodorous melodicism, hypnotically rendered through a ripped-raw soundfield, making their strangely hummable ruminations on triumph & tragedy sound all the more alien – and made it all seem effortless.
Going from strength to strength, FÖRGJORD waste no time and deliver their fifth album a swift year after the last: Laulu kuolemasta. Compared to the organ-led melancholia of the predecessor Ilmestykset, Laulu kuolemasta is a more liberating record aesthetically, the Finns unshackling themselves from rules – theirs, black metal’s, whatever – whilst keeping the FÖRGJORD identity front and center. No mean feat, that, especially this many years into their canon, but the Finns find ever more ways to twist and turn their always-beguiling/bewitching sound, and Laulu kuolemasta by turns explores territories both gloomier and more rockin’, if you will, with an acute mysticism coating the 46-minute work like a lingering fog. Of course, each of these eight songs (and two haunting interludes) exudes a deceptive(ly nasty) catchiness, and even without knowing their native language, you’ll find yourself soon singing these mini-anthems.
But, translated into English, Laulu kuolemasta means “Song about death,” which conceptually ties all this together. As founding guitarist/bassist Valgrinder explained in a recent interview, “Modern man has alienated himself from death, and the stranger death feels to him, the more he fears it. But death is more than just the end of all; it’s an important part of our lives, and metaphorically, it means rebirth. ‘Creation through destruction’ – one has to die before he can experience rebirth. Death washes away all our sins, and death doesn’t judge; we are all equal in front of it. So, one shouldn’t fear death nor close his eyes from it. When people accept death in their everyday lives, they don’t fear it anymore, and without fear, they can live finally free. But death can also be nothingness and never-ending cold darkness; it can be the final solution or ultimate punishment. So death has many different kinds of faces, and Laulu kuolemasta is our homage to it – that universal power that’s as strong as life itself.”
Werewolf Records (Finland), 2019.