Finsterforst is a folk metal act hailing from the heart of Germany, a country whose great folklore and music many take for granted. The band’s unique folk sound comes as a breeze of fresh air compared to their more light-hearted, and mostly Scandinavian, relatives who massively export their humppa-style folk blend. These Germans’ music is immensely different, and offers a more serious, and most of all more epic, folk metal approach.
Rastlos has a dark and old-school vibe, reminiscent of Moonsorrow, Bathory and the likes. A lot of attention is focused on the ambient, the eerie soundtrack of a hero’s travel coming to an end. Variety of masterfully incorporated folk instruments further contributes to this classic folk atmosphere, like for example the accordion and the trumpet parts in the opening track, “Nichts als Asche.” Folk instruments, beautiful acoustic guitars and choirs are given a little more space, while the electric guitars are in contrast turned down a bit when needed.
The tracks have progressive song structures, varied and catchy. They are capricious, and just when you think you’ve heard it all, good parts just keep coming and coming. The foundation of the sound is a combination of black and death metal, not just the vocals but also the guitar work. A lot of melody has been woven into the foundation, so much in fact that you might never guess a classic black metal storm is coming after a calm acoustic part, like at the beginning of “Fremd.” Though at times these traditional black metal parts are a great asset, at times they just feel like a bridge you can’t wait to cross in order to get to the good stuff, in this case the beautiful electric or acoustic, but most of all epic and melodic parts. As for the downsides, the length of the tracks at times seems like too much to handle. This means that although the songs are interesting and varied, you will definitely have to take the time with Rastlos and give the album many spins before you are able to get the whole picture.
To conclude, this is definitely one of the best folk metal albums I’ve heard in a while. Although impressive, there is nothing particularly new or innovative about this record. However, these days, when folk metal has become one of the most commercially successful and predictably generic styles, it is really nice to hear an effort that brings back the memories of the golden days of this genre.