Elegy by Finnr's caneRelease date: July 20, 2018
Label: Prophecy Productions
The flood of moribund, atmospheric black metal gestating in the Americas lately shows no sign of stopping. With the likes of Ghostbath, Deafheaven and Wolves in the Throne Room surfing the wave for the USA in recent years, it’s time for Canada’s own purveyors of miserabalities, Finnr’s Cane to seethe into the public’s consciousness. The time seems right for them. Comprised of only three members – enigmatically named The Bard (vocals, guitars), The Peasant (drums) and The Slave (cello, keyboards) – Finnr’s Cane have spent the five years since their last album condensing their brand of Agalloch-worship into a more refined, structured sound. The result is Elegy, seven songs carefully crafted to both channel the band’s black metal heritage and amalgamate it with a more melodic, more introspective edge that is at times has more in common with modern day doom metal than the likes of Mayhem or Darkthrone.
As is so common with this kind of band, Elegy has ecological themes running throughout. This is very apparent in song titles such as ‘Willow’ and ‘Earthsong’, but for the most part the poetic lyrics merely create a sense of creeping dread. Unlike previous albums Wanderlust and A Portrait Painted by the Sun, both of which showed great promise but lacked focus, Finnr’s Cane have clearly spent a large amount of time making sure that every second of every track on Elegy adds to the mournful atmosphere. With post-metal inspired ‘Willow’ and the doomy title track opening proceedings in a lighter, more relaxing vibe, there’s a real sense of calm before the storm. It’s only on third track ‘Strange Sun’, the heaviest on the album that the band really start to let their black metal chops through, and aside from folky instrumental track ‘Empty City’ that intensity is kept throughout the album. The epic closer ‘A Sky of Violet and Pearl’ is an excellent microcosm for the album – it features a repetitive riff built up to create an impressive atmosphere, capable of moments of both dark despair and of beautiful euphoria, bringing the album to a thoughtful conclusion with a relaxed piano outro.
It’s certainly an introspective, mesmerising creation, but it feels like at times Elegy lacks ambition. They often steer too close to their peers, never really creating a sound that is uniquely their own, at times sticking too closely to the tropes of the genre. The band’s selling point is a lack of bassist – though through clever use of a cello this is very rarely felt, it does lead to a reliance on The Slave’s keyboard sounds to create tension, and while his twinkling piano keys can be a delight they are sometimes used a little sparsely.
That is not to take anything away from this very well made album. The sense of atmosphere is exquisite, and the interplay between heavier and lighter songs; between quiet, echoing whispers and harsher howls are played very well. The only real misstep here is ‘Lacuna’, a track which feels underdeveloped, with too many ideas thrown into its five and a half minutes and not quite melted down to a finished song. The rest of the album is a well-structured slab of monolithic darkness and establishes Finnr’s Cane as a worthy addition to the American black metal cauldron.