From the outer fringes of Black Metal come Norway’s Furze, whose new full-length CD, Reaper Subconscious Guide (Agonia Records), continues to explore the essence of trance and ambiance, the genres of doom and sludge, and even the mixture of pace and form. The end result may challenge traditionalists, but those looking for a new approach to Black Metal will definitely dig the songs on this one.

Released by Agonia Records, Reaper Subconscious Guide consists of only five tracks, but each one averages more than seven minutes. At its core, the music is old-school Black Metal, complete with catchy guitar riffs that at times border the surf-like structures of early punk rock. Mastermind Woe J. Reaper (drummer for Norway’s Exitium) uses a minimalist approach to his compositions, letting the instrumentation breathe.

Reaper’s guitars serve as a center-point, with the bass reflecting the key riffs to create low-end shades with a doom-like structure. Riffs are thick and juicy, changing as the mood strikes. The guitars also seem to drive the shifts in pace and overall structure, with riffs feeding hooks and chops leading to some effective solos. Overt rhythms are abandoned, only to return later in the same song, sometimes serving to close it out. Not sure why, but some the riffs reminded me of old Alice Cooper, whereas others, such as the lead-off riff on Immortal Lecture, hearkened back to Black Sabbath.

Pace is relatively slow, although within each song there are moments when things pick up. Percussion is minimal, with chimes and bells used to augment the high-end register. Reaper’s principal vocals are a traditional demon scowl, but he also uses a low-end clean approach, as well as some piercing shrieks to catch attention.

Now, the Sabbath sound is not a mere accident, as Reaper has dedicated Reaper Subconscious Guide to the memory of the 1970-1975 Black Sabbath, about which Reaper says, “. . .without whose existence the dark Masterflame of Metal no Reality see. . . .”

Those who have followed Furze from their early demos (such as Necromanzee and Trident Black Metal Feast) to their 2000 debut EP, First Feast for Freedom, know what to expect from the band — the unexpected. Those who have not swallowed this bug should do so now. Enough with asking for bands that can startle the genre awake — Furze has been, shall be, and will be.

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