Formloff - Spyhorelandet
Spyhorelandet is an album that demands an attentive ear. The 2nd release by Norweigan black metallers Formloff, this record has an inherent sense of chaos that is easily distinguishable early and unavoidable as things progress. In essence a portrait of mental instability reflected by specific creative choices (unrefined, untraditional patterns, abrupt, jagged vocals, unconventional instrumentation), Spyhorelandet is an album that will live or die by the consuming atmosphere it attempts to portray.
Being a two-piece, it was only natural for Formloff to access the talents of session musicians to round out the rather impressive list of musical ideas Spyhorelandet represents. These nameless few certainly make their presence felt, but it is the core duo's songwriting that is purposefully placed on a pedestal for all to observe. The sharp, out-of-nowhere shifts in tracks like "Det dritet som renner ut i Ua" and "Mig og Drit" clearly set about rewarding the mindful listener with subtle instrumental flair and notable drum rhythmns behind the din of insanity. Before I give a false impression, this album isn't of the "everything full-speed-ahead all the time with out varying drops in tempo to catch the listener off guard" sort; the majority of the record drags along in a grossly overbearing low clip, allowing certain melodic intentions to flesh out. The only point of contention being the listener's expectations; where a sudden crescendo could almost be ordained by a higher power, the band instead retreats into a jam session, or vice-versa. You can never truly put your finger on what Formloff has in store for you next, but often times you'll come back to a specific moment where the surprise worked to great effect. Instead of pointing these out and perhaps ruining much of the fun, I will address my one favorite moment of the album: as the band climbs slowly into a prolonged jam, trading off muted, abrupt riffs and sharp, angular drum fills, it all suddenly breaks off as a wailing organ accompanies one of the most satisfying uses of the saxophone I've heard in quite some time. It shouldn't work, everything seems to be against such a premise being acceptable, but I'll be damned if it doesn't just reach out and grab you in that place that won't forget being grabbed.
Spyhorelandet is a challenge to whomever decides to listen; be patient, be open to anything, and most of all be not afraid of the intensity of black metal and the prerogative Formloff has for turning preconcieved notions of the genre on their collective ear. It doesn't necessarily reinvent the genre, but it doesn't need to; what it does is inject an element of life into it that wasn't there before, justifying itself by simply existing in it's chaotic, unformulated form. I have almost nothing to compare it to, and that might be the best compliment of all.
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