If there is one definable moment when 20th Century history took the wrong path, it’s when we decided to remember Prog as being safe. Yes, by the end it was all twenty-minute drum solos and Rick Wakeman in a dress, but Prog grew out of the thrill of experimentation, the desire to subvert and transgress against rock orthodoxy, and the best of it always had a sense of danger at its core.
Fleurety has always been at the furthest shore of Black Metal’s experimental tendencies, so it’s no surprise that they’ve rediscovered Prog’s twisted, broken side and dragged it back into focus.
Seventeen years have passed since Department Of Apocalyptic Affairs (Supernal), and on first listen, The White Death (Peaceville) is less fragmented and chaotic than its predecessor. Give it time, though, and it reveals a bone-deep strangeness that goes far beyond simply throwing in disparate sounds. This is firmly a collection of songs, each with its own character, but their songwriting is deeply unorthodox and bizarre, like if rock got drunk and refused to go home.
A track-by-track break down would make The White Death sound like a mess of contradictory influences, from the Manilla Road on Valium of ‘The Ballad Of Copernicus’ to ‘The Science Of Normality’ and its stumbling, tequila-nightmare rhythms, but as a whole it has a sense of consistency that comes more from a single vision than a single sound. This sense of unified-but-different is strengthened by the vocals – a different style for each song, but all of them sounding drunk and belligerent. There’s little on The White Death that’s traditionally Black Metal, and it’s frequently not violent or aggressive, but there’s a constant feeling of danger, of wrongness that permeates the music even in its gentlest moments.
With The White Death, Fleurety has not only given Prog back its teeth, they’ve reminded Metal that music doesn’t need to be violent to be disturbing. An intoxicating taste of what Prog Metal could have been like in a world where Opeth and Dream Theater didn’t get to chair the meeting.