Foscor exist in a space among metal that I have a lot of time for. Their music feels both modern and nostalgic at the same time. Like it could be from the early 00s, yet with the veneer of modern needle-pushing metal. This expression is often used for music that has intentionally lower-fi tones and production, but here it refers to the exceptional use of mood. They occupy a three-piece venn diagram somewhere between black metal, doom metal and progressive post-metal without entirely being any of them. Els Sepulcres Blancs takes from these several very strong, different, yet complimentary genres and styles to create something both well-written and refreshing.
Aside from all the lyrics being sung in Spanish, the Catalan Foscor (which translates literally to “Darkness”) have a sound that is peculiarly European. It’s a sound that feels cultivated and refined. It feels distanced from the technology that fused it together, with a sophisticated, ancient sound that America rarely has cultivated. The melancholy harboured here feels like it predates industrialization and colonialism to something more mystical, and that feeling coats this entire album like a solemn fog that has lingered from a time long gone. But out of that dark is an old wisdom, of nature and spirit intertwined, produced impressively within the confines of a modern metal release. “Secrets” is driven by this enchanting, slow marching beat and atmospheric tremolo picking distorted guitars that build to a scream, like conjuring ancient spirits.
Despite this album having almost entirely clean vocals and very little blast beats (“Canco de Mort” being a notable exception), on the surface it feels very comparable to other modern post/shoegaze black metal like Alcest especially. Vocalist Fiar has an ethereally similar (albeit grungier) vocal presence that augments the prominent atmospheric component of their sound. Foscor have been around since 2004, with this being their seventh full-length. Their earlier material is strongly rooted in the Spanish black metal scene and those roots are still palpable in their new progressive-post metal leaning sound, but it’s the doom influence that makes this shine. While post-black metal has flourished in the past decade, post-doom has felt oddly neglected. The abrasiveness of the black metal is turned down for an airy somberness that compliments the soaring and crashing post-metal instrumentation – that kind that can drag you through the dark but give you hope all the same.
There’s impressively little of ill I can say about this album. It comes in at a relatively short run length of 7 tracks (38 minutes) and with somewhat limited contrast and variation. Els Sepulcres Blancs maintains a consistent tone and general sound for the course of the album, but alleviates this through the occasional further lean into its influences. That progressive post-metal sound comes out impressively in “Cel Rogent” with some very Russian Circles style riffing and drum patterns. Those bouncing staccato notes over a sludge of heaviness that RC have made a career out of. The album closer, “L’Esglai” takes this in a more post-rock direction with some very We Lost The Sea, or Toundra sounding guitar work. This track is really a perfect culmination and resolution of the album.
Els Sepulcres Blancs is a welcome addition to the spectrum of dark atmospheric metal that should enlighten a broad array of listeners. Out now, on Season of Mist.
Els Sepulcres Blancs is available now via Season of Mist.