It is certainly no exaggeration to claim that the vast majority of our readers are mainly waiting for two releases this year: Gatekeeper’s second studio album and Fer de Lance’s full-length debut The Hyperborean. The latter has already been in front of us for a few weeks – and I can already reveal at the beginning of this review that our towering expectations, due to the grandiose EP Colossus (2020), have not been disappointed. For the first time in the history of our blog, there will be a separate text by Aidan and myself to pay tribute to this special record.
The Hyperborean undoubtedly deserves the label “work of art“. It takes the listener right away in the incredibly atmospheric, dreamy opener “Aurora Borealis“ into the mysterious, unfathomable yonder that epic metal fans usually long for. After this instrumental, which is excellent in every respect, comes “The Mariner“, the first song with which singer MP proves that he is one of the greats of his guild: In terms of expressiveness and individuality, he doesn’t have to hide from artists like Alan Averill or Felipe Kutzbach in any way. His powerful as well as soulful performance, which shows a remarkable richness of facets, has already given me goosebumps several times in the last weeks. If you don’t believe me, just listen to the mighty “Sirens“ or the no less brilliant closing title track with its sublime vocal lines. It doesn’t get any better than that!
No less fantastic is the guitar work, for which MP and J. Geist are responsible. The warm, penetrating tone of the often yearning, sometimes fire-breathing, always passionate leads alone – a dream! The riffing, which stylistically covers almost all metal styles, has – like the vocals – an addictive factor that you should beware of: Once you are immersed in the cosmos of Fer de Lance, you don’t want to leave it. An important contribution to this is made by the acoustic guitars played by Midnight Dice frontwoman Mandy Martillo, which again and again create wonderful, otherworldly Viking Era-Bathory moments that caress the soul. Those who love albums like Hammerheart, Twilight of the Gods or Blood on Ice will melt away…. and also enjoy the “radio play“ elements, which are inspired by Quorthon without any ifs or buts. By the way, if that’s too tranquil for you, you might want to try the hard-hitting “Arctic Winds“, which leaves nothing but scorched earth in its wake.
At this point at the latest, it is clear to every reader: Those who expect more or less classic epic heavy metal in the style of Visigoth (to name a younger outfit) on The Hyperborean will probably be a little confused or disappointed – even if a monument like e.g. “Northern Skies“ has plenty of fistraising potential, at least in the captivating chorus. Above all, a song like “Ad Bestias“ squints in the direction of extreme metal in many parts – just listen to the (constantly impressive) drumming of Scud, besides the already mentioned riffing. All in all, Fer de Lance remind me of the German exceptional band Sulphur Aeon here, but also in other numbers (in the title track you can even hear quite a bit of growling). But it has to be said that the US-Americans are so distinctive on their debut album that this name-dropping is basically needless – thanks to the creative mix of styles, Fer de Lance simply sound like Fer de Lance. There are not many bands that succeed so impressively in creating their own sound, together with a very special, unique atmosphere.
Apart from the very good sound, the great artwork by my favourite artist Adam Burke should of course be emphasised. If I had the necessary change, I would probably decorate my whole flat with his artwork. So the fact that Fer de Lance have chosen Burke is the icing on the cake for me!
Conclusion: The quality that The Hyperborean offers will presumably make all other competitors in the epic genre cut their teeth this year and far beyond. Fer de Lance are even more multi-faceted than on their first output Colossus, which was already almost perfect. Their first full-length will therefore certainly top many best lists in our Epic Metal Blog target group at the end of the year – or at least appear in the Top 3. Why I still don’t reach for the highest score here? In direct comparison, Vanaheim’s Een verloren verhaal moves me even more right now, so the Dutch don’t have to vacate the throne (for now). But: I don’t have to stress that you urgently need BOTH albums and that we are dealing with two future CLASSICS? We really do live in wonderful times where the underground has so much to offer….