Trying to pin down Fleurety's sound and somehow describe them is akin to drawing blood from a stone – impossible, unless you're a wizard or Jesus. The avant-garde tag doesn't seem enough for these Norwegians and their third full length (and first since 2000's Department of Apocalyptic Affairs—a record that by all accounts, was a mess), The White Death does nothing to cement any one genre in the mind. All discordant cycles and bizarre segues, The White Death takes a long hard look at what black metal is and turns it completely on its head.
Headed up by two long time members—Alexander Nordgaren and Svein Egil Hatlevik—Fleurety are joined here by collaborators Czral-Michael Eide (Virus, Aura Noir) and Linn Nystadnes on vocals, as well as a flautist and a backing singer. Opening track "The White Death" is one of the most straightforward on the album (and potentially its most black metal offering), but even so, it moves deftly from rasped vocals and off-kilter guitars to gorgeous clean lines with no warning, and in doing so creates the outsider vibe that has stood as a central theme to black metal for so long. However, Fleurety are far removed from that baseline genre at this point, and The White Death moves on from its beginnings to become something much richer and full of depth.
"The Ballad of Copernicus" is a wonderfully melancholic ode that uses hypnotic, deep vocals to evoke wells of sadness before "Lament of the Optimist" takes us back to weirder territory and the blacker elements of the band shine through once again. "The Science of Normality" is a curious tale that takes in maddening time signatures with cues from the jazz world, building sirens of sound that tumble over layered vocals and dissonant rhythms that never end up where you think they're going to. "Future Day," once again moves the record on to an entirely different path and this gorgeous flute led piece that is cloaked in solemnity serves as a reminder that Fleurety are not here to be put in any kind of box.
The White Death is a stunning, uncompromising and thought provoking record that should be talked about for years to come. It's a record to spend many hours with, unpicking its seams and delving deep below the obvious for the route to oblivion. Stream it below, and grab your copy from Peaceville come October 27.
Cheryl Carter is dancing with death on Twitter.