It’s been six years since Norwegian duo Faustcoven last graced our speakers with the stripped down Black/Doom masterpiece that was 2012’s “Hellfire and Funeral Bells”. Returning at long last with album number four, the aptly titled “In the Shadow of Doom”, Faustcoven have unleashed what is undoubtedly the best of their career thus far. The song writing is considered and calculated, the production dark and distant and the musicianship suitably nuanced, pretty much everything you could ever want from an album of this ilk.
The fusion of these two genres has always produced somewhat of a mixed bag when it comes to overall results (Nortt are an exception to this), with bands often pursuing one side more than the other and never quite grasping the right atmosphere to really make the combination work. This is certainly not the case for Faustcoven on “In the Shadow of Doom”.
Having sharpened all the rough edges to a blackened point, mainman Gunnar Hansen has crafted something that is totally unique and is both VERY doom and VERY black metal. After listening to the album in its entirety what really stands out is the dynamics at play (“Yet He Walks” and “Quis Est Iste Qui Venit” are great examples of this) as it seamlessly drifts from the abrasive to the sublime without you even batting an eyelid. Opener “The Wicked Dead” is probably the most ‘black metal’ of these eight tracks, kicking straight in with a beautifully dark discordant riff and inventive bass work, all cemented together by Johnny Tombthrasher’s simple-yet-affective drum work. “The Devil’s Share” reminds me a little bit of “It’s Magic” or “Swarm Deserted Away” by Ved Buens Ende (particularly where the bass riffs are concerned), while the epic “Yet He Walks”, “Marching in the Shadow” and “Sign of Satanic Victory” will be a must for all the pure doom fanatics out there.
One thing that must also be noted is the superb vocal performance by Gunnar that are always perfectly placed and never overbearing. Preferring the black metal rasp over any clean sung parts, his voice lends a lot in creating the overall atmosphere, keeping that essential funereal vibe drifting through the air like thick, impenetrable fog.
Criticism is hard to come by when listening to “In the Shadow of Doom” as everything pretty much does what is intended. It’s loud, it’s brilliant written and its pitch fucking black making it easily one of the most listenable releases this year, and certainly the best Faustcoven release so far. An absolute must. (DaveW)