In the vast realm of metal music, there are certain bands that may have caught your attention from time to time, but have never quite left an indelible mark. Firtan is one such band for me. Their name carries a pagan allure, and while their initial albums didn’t entirely captivate me, they held moments that left a lasting impression. However, with the release of ‘Marter,’ Firtan’s third album and second under the AOP Records label, it seems that they have reached a new level of maturity and creativity in their composition.
My initial encounter with ‘Marter’ was through its album cover. A work of art renowned as “Szał uniesień” (Ecstasy Frenzy) by Polish artist Władysław Podkowiński immediately grabbed my attention. This painting, created during the artist’s final years, depicts a naked woman erotically caressing a frantic black horse. The woman’s face is consumed by ecstasy, her eyes shut in pleasure, hands clenched tightly, and her voluptuous figure radiating a sense of satisfaction. The horse, in contrast, displays a contorted tongue, flared nostrils, and foaming mouth, while at the bottom, obscured by the horse’s legs, is a phallus in full erection. The composition embodies contrasting elements – radiant exuberance on the left, and a swirling darkness on the right.
Interestingly, the artist painted this masterpiece while bedridden, inspired by an unrequited and desperate love. The painting garnered significant attention during an exhibition but was ultimately slashed by the artist himself on the closing day. Shortly thereafter, he passed away.
The album’s title, ‘Marter’ (meaning “torture” or “torment” in German), resonates deeply with the spirit of the painting and draws inspiration from 20th-century German poetry. ‘Marter’ encapsulates the paradoxical interplay between madness and romance, agony and passion – a tragic unrequited love that brings intoxication and ecstasy upon arrival, yet leaves devastation and ruin in its wake.
Turning to the music itself, Firtan bears the distinctive traits of prominent bands under the AOP Records banner, such as Ellende and Harakiri for the Sky. Their black metal sound is influenced by the second wave with echoes of dark classical music, hints of post-metal, progressive elements, and atmospheric rock. The album features a captivating blend of guitar tremolos, meticulously timed and executed double-kick drums replacing the traditional Norwegian blast beat, and haunting chants reminiscent of the pagan tradition – a blend that evokes an eerie yet majestic atmosphere akin to bands like Nalfgar.
The bass also plays a notable role. While the production highlights the guitar and drums, the bass manages to make its presence felt, adding a touch of funky and refined progressiveness. Amidst the tremolos and chilling guitar tones, there are moments of acoustic delicacy and mournful violin passages. Much like Ellende, Firtan skillfully transitions between fierce, epic crescendos and tranquil, introspective interludes, infusing their compositions with both intensity and poetic stillness.
With ‘Marter,’ Firtan has undeniably solidified their place as an eagerly anticipated name in the realm of black metal. Their music is rich in emotion and poetic resonance, weaving an intricate tapestry of sound that resonates deeply with listeners. ‘Marter’ is an album that encapsulates the essence of dark romanticism and pagan mystique, a journey into the depths of the human experience.
Tracklist and sound link is here
- Amor Fati
In conclusion, Firtan’s ‘Marter’ is a captivating exploration of the juxtaposition between dark romanticism and pagan atmosphere. With its roots in profound artistic inspiration and poetic themes, the album is a testament to Firtan’s musical growth and evolution. Whether you’re a seasoned metal enthusiast or a curious newcomer, ‘Marter’ is a sonic journey that promises to leave a lasting impression, much like the evocative painting that inspired it.