Album review: Laster’s ‘Ons vrije fatum’

Ons vrije fatum

Ons vrije fatum

Artist: Laster

Album: Ons vrije fatum

Genre: Progressive black metal

Rating: 4/5

Links: Facebook, Bandcamp, record label

There’s plenty to like on Laster’s sophomore record: Great experimentation, solid variety and holy shit, some really good vocals.

This is where the unfortunate counterpoint usually goes but no, Laster’s sophomore record “Ons vrije fatum” is just an absolute pleasure to listen to.

Title track opener “Ons vrije fatum” is an excellent example of Laster’s myriad of strengths. Little time is wasted before tremelo picking and raw atmosphere set in and their execution is classic black metal done right.

However, this is hardly an old school black metal record. Initially raw soundscapes quickly give way to melodic riffing, remarkable clean singing and lengthy sections of proggy atmosphere. “Ons vrije fatum’s” diversity is one of its greatest strengths and neither the record as a whole or its seven individual seven songs grow monotonous or fatiguing.

But if there’s anything that deserves special praise, it’d be the vocals. The screams here are just massive, both in their emotional rawness and sheer intensity. Black metal vocals are often referred to as “shrieks” but for many lesser bands this often just amounts to particularly harsh screaming. Here, they’re god damn shrieks that demand the listener’s full attention, despite the non-English lyrics.

Though the harsh vocals are fantastically grim and wintery and the record will undoubtedly please genre devotees, “Ons vrije fatum” is not an inaccessible or overly abrasive black metal record. There’s enough avant-garde strangeness, melody and variety for all metal fans to enjoy. This is certainly better than anything Enslaved has put out this decade, anyway.

“Ons vrije fatum” is an excellent contemporary starting point for metalheads looking to dip their toes into black metal’s murky waters and would make a fine addition to any genre veteran’s collection.

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