Rastlos is the third full-length album by German folk metal act Finsterforst. It’s been a few years since the release of their prior album ...zum Tode hin (2009) but with the exception of a couple of shorter interlude type tracks which appear on Rastlos, Finsterforst returns with another album comprised of long drawn out tracks, this time ranging from 10:20 to 22:10 minutes in length. With seven songs including the interludes Rastlos is a truly mammoth album.
The pity here is that Rastlos generally doesn’t feel as if each tracks uses those epic durations to the full extent of their potential. Musically speaking Rastlos is the sort of folk metal album which builds upon a black metal base through the lead vocals and instrumentation and then introduces folk elements through instruments such as tin whistles and accordions to provide the more melodic sections, while keyboards and clean vocals also play a role to create this side of the sound. You aren’t going to specifically hear an obvious folk element all the time in an album like Rastlos but you don’t necessarily need to have it for every second of a release for it to still be folk metal, so Rastlos is best described as the sort of folk metal release which favours its metal side over its folk side, which ultimately makes it end up sounding like a true black/folk metal hybrid than some other albums which have combined the styles. The thing is it seems that most of the songs just plod along, utilising some good ideas here and there but ultimately overstaying their welcome.
It’s the sort of album where, while listening to it its very enjoyable for a couple of tracks but by the time we’re getting towards midway through it starts becoming something of an ‘I’ve heard this before experience’. The clean vocals have a nice tone to them which works with the folk side of the band well but they also lack variation, sounding the same pretty much every time they are used while the album is general feels quite formulaic. All the main songs carry the same kind of melancholic approach to making folk metal and while this works for the band it would be nice if they threw a few surprises into the mix. If you think the long songs mean you’ll get something progressive on Rastlos then think again, as the album is decidedly un-progressive. If it had been, it may have worked better than it does. Additionally the interlude tracks come across as somewhat useless.
Ironically by the time we get to the end of the album and the 22:10 minute track Flammenrausch, things seem to suddenly go right for Finsterforst and they produced not only the best song on the album, but also proved that they can use such long running times to their full potential. I’m just rather flummoxed as to why it took until the final song for everything to come together for them. I still wouldn’t call the track top tier material, but it comes a lot closer than everything that comes before it.
Rastlos is one of those albums which is truly frustrating as with a bit of trimming I may have come away from this one feeling a lot more positive. Although they featured shorter songs on their debut album Weltenkraft (2007) the whole long songs thing seems to have become a Finsterforst thing over the last couple of albums and while I can’t say how well it may have worked on ...zum Tode hin, as I haven’t heard that album, I’m quite disappointed by the ultimate execution of Rastlos, where all the songs have some great stuff to offer but the album as a whole just doesn’t quite manage to sit right with me. Still, Rastlos is a satisfying album in small doses, so a good album tier rating is deserved.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))