Returning after 17 years with an album of new material Norwegian blackened death metalers Fester show they still walk the shadows and bask in the filth coated dark. Their new album A Celebration of Death is a malevolent corrupting beast that lurks in nightmares and fuels inner sinister maelstroms, a release that shows the band can still hold hands with evil and call the shots.
The last appearance of Fester, one of the instigators and forerunners of Norwegian black metal came just with the release of their 1994 second album Silence the band splitting up not long after, though there was a ‘false start ‘ of a return in the early 2000s. Then 2010 saw the band reunited with the line-up of original members Jon Bakker (bass), Thomas Andersen (vocals) and Bjorn “Tiger” Mathisen (guitar/vocals) plus the addition of Audun Kleive (session drums), Raymond Pellicer (additional guitars, programming and synth), Eivind Aarseth (additional guitars), Guido Saint Roch (guest vocals on “Metalized”) and Mortiis (Dark Converter) for the album. Released via Abyss Records, with a limited edition cassette version (100 copies only) with Total Holocaust Records and vinyl edition through Flooga Records, A Celebration of Death is a satisfying statement that the band has not lost any of their invention and bitter venom over the years.
The album brings a festering (excuse the pun) mesh of black, death and thrash metal lined with heavy metal and other striking flavours. It is an album that dares you to step within its darkened halls and challenges the senses to stay there, but stand tall in the face of its test and one finds a rewarding and striking release. A Celebration of Death does not send the emotions into a frenzy to be honest but it offers plenty to keep them and the ears intrigued.
The opening track Rites of Ceres strolls in with confidence and head held high, its riffs sending ripples of nastiness through the ear whilst vocalist Andersen releases every word with spite dripping from every syllable, his delivery a crawling scourge upon the ear with a patient but wholly vindictive intent. The song infiltrates every corner of the mind with lingering intrusive fingers twisting and violating as it runs its length. Listening through its course one hears the band have not left their original old school sound but brought it up to date with thoughtful interpretation and fresh vehemence.
Throughout the album the levels stay high with a diversity underlining the surface blackened energy and intensity. The persistently niggling The Black Tower with its scorched melodies and grumbling bass riffs, and the unrelenting stalking drive of I’ll Hunt You Down being two fine examples, both eager to manipulate and leave the senses floundering in their own filth but brought with a diverse attack that ensures nothing ever drops into predictability.
The highlight of the album is Metalized, a song as sturdy and muscular as its title suggests. The track marches through the ear with sturdy rhythms and uncompromising riffs. From the vocals though to the drums, everything has a heavier mass and the song a much deeper formidable flow to it, a sound aided by a dark industrial lilt throughout.
A Celebration of Death is a fine album and strong return from Fester, both something their fans will be writhing in bliss about. It is hard to claim the album offers anything remarkably new or stirring, the release missing a certain spark and failing to ignite one within the heart but it is a satisfying listen and one that invites frequent returns.