Gestating in various form starting in the early nineties, the thorny evergreen vision of fiercely independent Trondheim, Norway based musician Woe J. Reaper (Christian Knapstad) came to form as Furze a full twenty years ago in 1998. In receiving this latest creation I was wholly ignorant of the project’s now seven album discography and the tastefully experimental progression of Reaper‘s vision; Intent on drawing a natural line between ‘Under the Sign of the Black Mark’ and the creeping doom grooves of early Pentagram, most of Furze‘s output achieves the sort of idiosyncratic bliss felt in exploration of Paul Chain‘s darker side but from a decidedly Norse perspective. ‘The Presence…’ appears from behind the shadowy occult doom influences of Furze‘s earlier discography and serves as an aggressive compliment the aggravated, uptempo howl of ‘Baphomet Wade’ (2015) before it.
To fully appreciate ‘The Presence…’ a trip through some stylistic highlights in the highly experimental back catalog of Furze should be in order; The significance of this thrashing black/doom metal monstrosity is heightened with some provenance. A three album run starting with ‘Necromanzee Cogent’ (2003) and ending with ‘Psych Minus Space Control’ (2012) developed an incredibly unique vision of doom metal, at least if you leave out the very different ‘UTD’ (2007) album he did for Candlelight Records. Those records capture the stark naked spirit of the first Saint Vitus record and twisted it’s atmosphere of impending doom towards something far more supernatural. ‘Baphomet Wade’ was a leap of faith towards a combination of experimental rock, speed metal, and black metal that was equally hallucinatory but had all but entirely dropped its traditional doom metal side. ‘The Presence…’ corrects some of that but likewise leans into progress deeper with black/thrash riffs that recall classic Absu at times.
There are inevitable comparisons to make with sloppy pioneers Barathrum and modern contemporaries like Faustcoven and Negative Plane but it’d be hard to suggest that any of those groups see eye-to-eye with Furze. In expanding his repertoire Reaper‘s albums become increasingly dynamic and ‘The Presence…’ is surreal in the sense that it appears almost uncharacteristically professional and inclusive of previously achieved high points. In this sense this is a great album to start with when exploring Furze. From the ripping black/thrash of “The Doom” towards the enormous groove of “Space Scars” Furze have laid out a progression distinctly their own with a minimal amount of filler. To be clear there are a handful of moments that are merely ancillary; As vital as “The Presence…” and “Drammadur” are as transitions, the duo of “Souls Fire” and “Zarathustra’s Overkill” accomplish nothing beyond filling time at the end of the album before the incredible doom stomp of “Home in Hell”.
In the esoteric realm of heavy metal it is vital to support and celebrate the most thoughtful and independent artists you come across; Without their crooked realities heavy music will cease to bend into new forms. In identifying Furze as one of those outsiders seeking independence through experimentation and heightening forms I would pretty highly recommend most any/all of the project’s releases. As I said before ‘The Presence…’ is a great place to start but it might help to understand the stylistic evolution of the project in tandem, especially if you enjoy both first wave black metal and traditional doom metal. For preview I would suggest the pairing of “Bat Cobra” with “Space Scars” to start and “The Doom” to get the bigger pictures of ‘The Presence…’. Highly recommended.
Baphomet calls, helpless you cower. 4.0/5.0
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