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If first impressions really do count, then get ready to lose count. You kind of have no choice after the symphonic and crushing first few seconds of this debut from Followbane. Chances are you’ve never heard of them – and since this album was the first anyone had ever heard from them – let’s go over what happened.
The album opener is called “Butterfly of Fell”. Looks like a typo from where I’m standing, but then again this band’s song titles and lyrics can be a bit all over the place. You sort of get the idea, but other times you just guess. But when it comes to the music, second guess at your own risk.
Case in point is the said opening track which somehow makes a keyboard actually, seriously sound like twice as many orchestras as any other band. But at the same time it also introduces this bands most devastating weapon; their melodies. And when you wed that to a singer who sounds like he just invented this thing called black metal vocals – the end result is that’s your jaw hitting the ground.
The hook in the opening track plays by almost exactly the same rule of practically every other song that they’ve released across five albums. That means it’s the very first thing you hear, and usually without the whole band in full accompaniment. What then follows can only be called either a symphonic build up (or symphonic explosion) that still manages to work as a song with verses and a chorus.
One of the dead giveaways that you’re dealing with natural born songwriting brilliance is the way the blastbeats weave in and out. Any other young black metal band (of any brutal black metal stripe) wouldn’t dare keep one eye on the speed limit. But Followbane are a band that know what they’re doing.
Track two is the longest song on the album at around six and half minutes. And if you want ambitious just have a listen to the harpsichord intro. And then listen to it shatter in the face of a blastbeat jackhammer onslaught providing backing to a double barrel vocal performance of black and death in a fist fight to end all fist fights. Oh and then comes the neoclassical shredding that’ll have you googling this band at four in the morning.
But enough with the song by song run sheet. It’s all there. If you want gothic grand and death defying there’s “Lunar Eclipse” with an ethereal female guest vocal performance or “Sin of Frozn Land” (yep another typo) – that not only manages a poetic headrush of a hook, but even lets a momentary medieval interlude spell out the terror in a different way altogether.
At the same time there’s massacre squads galore. “Where Broken Wings Fall” lets horror worthy organs raise the curtain on to the darkest and most densely arranged verses imaginable. Only to be followed by a chorus that you’d swear is being nailed on top the verses being sung all over again and at exactly the same time. You’ll still be wondering what the hell happened at about the time the vocals take what can only be called a ‘barking’ turn.
Followbane are in my top 5 and yet there stuff is practically impossible to buy. They’re basically a one man show called Nosuke who lists his influence as Blind Guardian, Dissection, Running Wild and Royal Hunt. Together with a good friend called Kob@ (yep spelt exactly like that) and bits and pieces from their buddies, they’ve managed to put themselves on the map in the smartest possible way. By blowing everyone else off it.