29 May 2022 - Thorsten
Atmospheric Blackgaze | Babylon Doom Cult Records | Release date: 22 Apr 2022
Tides are one of the strongest forces in the world – ebb and flow are responsible for a lot of processes here on mother Earth. Tides is also the name of the debut album by new Dutch atmospheric black metal outfit Freja – and it lives up to its programmatic name!
Freja is one part C. from Witte Wieven and one part W. from Laster and as Freja they combine some of the qualities of the aforementioned bands but also add some other trademarks. Nevertheless, one cannot deny the fact that Freja breathes the urgency inherent to the amazing Dutch black metal scene, which can also be seen in the roots of the band: back in 2018/19 several Dutch musicians started a Roadburn commission project called Maalstroom whose aim it was to highlight the amazing quality of the scene and that is where C. and W. met and afterwards decided to follow the path of collaboration and then formed Freja.
When listening to the six tracks of their debut record it is quickly very apparent that the two musicians involved are not novices but already accomplished artists as their songwriting and arranging the songs as well as their knack for details are undeniable. The duo releases lots of stormy gushes of storm-swept seas onto our shores which becomes clear right from the start of the first track “Our Chosen Path”. That does not only refer to the whirlwinds and blastbeats but also to the guitar tuning and the small details which sometimes remind one of pagan or viking metal without ever really touching these genres.
The ebb and flow is obvious when listening to the fine post-rocky guitar lines that open the third track, ”Dusk”, when W. gives us some wavey guitar motifs and C. can add her wonderfully melancholic clean vocals on top of this wavey doom-track. That the track then ends in a classic black metal tornado full of blast beats is nothing but the icing on the cake of the tides-motif. The other, rather doomy tracks are ”Of Those Stricken by Fate” and ”Cloaks of Valor”, especially the first one sharing some resemblance with the Dutch Gothic masters of The Gathering. ”Cloaks of Valor” is the last track and also serves like a classic end-track picking up all the elements one came to cherish before and thus condensing the record into a perfect 9-minute-summary: It starts with the rough winds and ebbs away into the calmness of the sea after a cleansing storm which washed away all the negativity of the day before. That is in general something, that Tides does really well: make one forget the troubles outside and dive into the 39 minutes of atmospheric black metal that would be perfect as an opener for Celestial Season as well as Fluisteraars.