FINSTERNIS (German for "darkness" or "obscurity" as Alex has informed me) hail from the fertile plains of Waco, Texas, a land known for its wealth of hicks, oil, strip-clubs, PANTERAs, George W. Bush's, David Koresh's, Babylonians, and...*GASP*...BLACK METAL?!?!?! Well paint my face, burn my church, ravage my carcass and call me Euronymous! Since the guys (and gal) in the band were kind enough to send me their demo/presskit, I feel it only fair to give them an honest, thorough critique of it. So...to the ReviewMobileT Robin!!!
FINSTERNIS dub their music "haunting epic Black Metal", a pretty accurate slogan I must say. The bandphotos are of the quintessential "posing in the forest with war-paint and medieval weaponry" ilk, quite entertaining, as Black Metal was meant to be! Though I must say that the thoroughly cheesy war-helmet adorning the drummer is just a tad unnecessary. The songs are an average of 8+ minutes, so one can guess that they have the "epic" part solidified, even before listening to the demo...
"Part I - Resounding" starts things off with some nice, eerie guitar-volume-swells, before kicking into a tremolo-picked riff that repeats and repeats and...ad infinitum...then the bass guitar comes in and.......OH MY SATAN.....talk about getting blue-balled! Everything seemed fine up to that point, then cue the bass, with a wretchedly thin, clunky, flatulent tone that reveals the pick-scrapings more than the actual tonalities of the notes. Sorry dudes, this has to be the single worst bass-tone I've yet heard in my life, even for a demo. I can only quote a certain Beavis when I say: "CHANGE IT!"
As far as song-writing and structuring, the band seems very intent on weaving a nice web of darkness and despair in each composition. They rely on slow, brooding tempos to suck you down into the dungeons of your own inner abyss. While I admire the intentions and dedication to the sound this band has chosen, I'm not at all convinced by the performance. The melodies and overall song-structures are far too boring and uninvolving, not to mention the fact that the musical passages seem too hastily strewn-together, with little, if any, flow. There are moments that show some definite potential, like the mellow, jazzy interlude at the 7:20 mark on "Part II..." (the highlight of the demo for me), but these moments of sublimity are far too overshadowed by the loads of discardable riffery on hand.
The SOUND of each instrument needs definite honing as well. The guitars sound like my old cracked Ibanez Roadstar played through my first amp (note: a Crate amp, note again: Crate blows!), and the drums sound very much like pencils tapping paper cups, especially at the slug's-pace blasting parts, where the snare is virtually inaudible. The vocals are, in my opinion, pretty decent, but only on the Deathier parts. When the vocalist attempts to "sing", it is quite fatal at best. And don't get me going on the bass-tone again...
Sorry fellas, I just can't shake the notion that this sounds a bit uninspired and weak. I can hear how good it COULD be, but the delivery isn't there, so the end result is sort of "huh?". I can say that the melodies are quite memorable, but they're also very, very flat and unoriginal. There's simply nothing on display here that I haven't heard done before. It will take a bit more fine-tuning if you're gonna have hopes of gaining any form of record label attention, as most label-execs will see the words "Black Metal" and "American" in the same paragraph and instinctively run home to their shower to wash off any possible "cooties" they may have caught. In the meantime, my advice is: more practice in the woodshed, less time spent in the forest taking pictures.