Foedus - Foul of Bethlehem - (8/10)
Published on April 1, 2018
Formed by Caenum (all instruments/vocals) and Dominus Oppresssio (vocals) in 2014, Foedus is a Finnish black metal duo. The band’s debut full length album, Foul of Bethlehem, dropped in early 2018 through Wolfspell Records. Though these guys are also in the rather raw and capricious Sacrificium Carmen, the debut work from Foedus is a rather polished, and quite melodic, affair. Featuring nearly thirty minutes over eight tracks, Foul of Bethlehem marks a rather promising start to the band’s career.
In a pinch, Foedus could be lumped into the realm of ultra-melodic, bouncy, Finnish black metal, spearheaded by the likes of Sargeist and Horna, though the breadth of the band’s influences seems to run much deeper. Sure, the majority of the album features melodic tremolo passages done in that classic Finnish, mid-tempo style, but the duo has a tendency to swoop in mid-song with some type of unexpected fill or soiree, only to retreat back to the safety of mid-tempo melodicism. It makes for an interesting and quite fun listen, albeit a bit choppy at times. One could point out each intrusion, like the reverb laden stoppage during the title track or the twangy, dark folk interlude that is “Aegri Somnia”, but it would be pointless. It should suffice to say that Foedus plays catchy, mid-paced black metal but aren’t afraid to take a few professional risks.
Honestly though, despite my nitpicking on structuring, the songwriting is solid and the production is clear, allowing each instrument to shine through nicely; especially those tremolo riffs. The the percussion is competent, with fast bursts of double bass and some stomping, first wave tinged movements, but not overly showy. The vocals are rather tortured, garbled screams, fitting the dark lyrical content quite nicely. Really though, most people listen to this style of black metal for the riffs, and that is one section where Foedus does not disappoint. Most of the album sees the band settling into their bouncy Finnish style, though a few notes of Carpathian Forest tuck in during “The Carrion” and it’s hard to ignore the sweeping Ophthalamia influences during the closer, “Worthless”, which is a scathing take on scenesters.
Foul of Bethlehem is a fine debut. Foedus clearly has some songwriting chops and their version of melodic, Finnish black metal is tasteful. While it’s not the most groundbreaking album in the genre, it’s nice to see some other bands experimenting with the tried and true sound a bit. The short run time makes this an extremely easy listen that is not overly dense. Recommended for fans of that classic, bouncy Finnish style, but don’t expect this to completely straight forward.