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The Firstborn play 'avant garde black metal', apparently. Not a bad concept in and of itself, it's great when a band attempts to throw out the rulebook altogether and approach composition with a fresh outlook. Unfortunately a lot of bands in this style don't actually do anything like this, including The Firstborn. Let me explain.
'The Noble Search' reminds me of The Woods of Ypres and Ihsahn, that is to say, they attempt to be more unique or progressive by combining extreme metal with more conventional styles of music. I've never, ever understood the mentality behind this, but apparently combing the aesthetic of black metal with more popular, easy listening styles of music is a seen as a valid form of high artistic expression. It's one step forward, two steps back. Rather than taking black metal into new, unexplored territories and allowing the music to truly progress, most 'progressive' black metal bands go back and play 'normal' music mixed with black metal, their music having a lot of traits that I turned to black metal to escape from!
The music here is mostly here is mostly mid-paced and groovy, with lots of accesible riffs with a certain oriental flavour to them. Mixed in are the occasional atonal riffs and leads, the kind you find in Deathspell Omega type orthodox black metal, and both are sadly pretty generic. The vocals range from extreme metal growls and rasps and clean moaned vocals that aren't necessarily very distinctive. The drumming is capably played, sometimes playing faster rhythms over some slower riffs. I don't remember the bass doing anything particularly distinctive so I presume it merely holds the rhythm and nothing more. There is the occasional oriental instrument mixed in, although not playing anything particularly interesting, they sound authentic although they could be sampled. The dynamics of the songs don't really interest me very much, there's a bit of tempo change here, but the song usually comes back to it's standard recurring theme and doesn't really go anywhere particularly unusual or interesting.
There are some parts that are...I dunno...catchy I guess? But they sound forced and don't really come naturally, more annoyingly addictive than anything. Annoying is the wrong word, the music here isn't necessarily annoying and I can switch off why it's on, it just isn't remotely interesting at all. It's not bad music at all, and I expect that fans of bands like Opeth and the aforementioned Ihsahn would drool over this, maybe Mastodon fans aswell. I guess you could say the music is neither here nor there...it's not strange enough to intrigue me, but it's not memorable or catchy enough to compete with a lot of other 'conventional' bands. I do like certain parts, I think the band should have focused more on the faster, more fiercer black metal moments - the song 'Flesh to the Crows' is cool and an albums worth of similar material would have been good. Unfortunately the band spent most of their time in boringville and I really don't get much enjoyment out of this, even if it's not really a bad album. It does nothing to insult me, but nothing to interest me either. There's a crowd that will definitely enjoy this, but I'm not part of it.