HERFST (AUTUMN in English) is a Belgian Melodic Death/Black Metal band, formed in 2003 – and here I copy-paste from the gig report (see here) when the band supported GOD DETHRONED in October 2011 -, has over the years undergone several line-up changes. It wasn’t until 2010 that the debut album came out: “Necrotica”. Prior to this a demo was put out in 2003 and an EP in 2005 (“Life’s Enddesign”). And before their gig in Ypres, HERFST had again changed their line-up. Matthieu Van den Brande (ex-POSEYDON) replaced Dietwin Elbers on vocals.
Live-wise HERFST has so far shared the stages with DARK FUNERAL, VITAL REMAINS, GOD DETHRONED, BELPHEGOR, THE VISION BLEAK, TANKARD, GRAVEWORM, ANOREXIA NERVOSA, SCARVE, HORNA, ANCIENT RITES, IN-QUEST, SECRETS OF THE MOON, THE LEGION, PANCHRYSIA, and many more.
Anno 2012, on the 19th of May, the band will release the first EP of a duo: “The Deathcult Pt. I – An Oath In Darkness”. This release contains 5 tracks, was recorded under the all-watching eye of Sven “Svenchi” Janssens and mixed and mastered by no one less than Dan Swanö.
It begins with a “Prologue” and like many such tracks, they are relatively short, for the biggest part instrumental and serve to create a sort of atmosphere, setting, mood. This one sounds dark and gloomy and contains the required ingredients: strings, keys, brass, percussion, choir, … It’s almost like in a film. The sharp riffing of “Tonight It Descends” then takes over, followed by a fast outbreak by the rest of the music. This sounds a bit like extreme Power Metal. The Black Metal touch isn’t that far, though, as the guitars switch tones and the drums come out blasting and pounding. The vocal department is occupied by Laurens Vannijvel for the cleans and Matthieu (HERFST’s lead vocalist) doing the screaming. The bridge is whispered and connects well with the Black Metal chorus. The whole sounds haunting and dark, also thanks to the keyboards or samples. At some point there is Catherine Nitrojane Robertson holding a speechn during which a solo can be heard. But the real solo is set for later, while the drums also follow a more normal pattern. The melodic side is assisted by the harpsichord and organ. And if that wasn’t enough, things get nasty, also emphasized by the growls and screams. All ends with the extreme Power Metal of before at first, then slowing down until DARK TRANQUILLITY comes to mind, somehow. Quality stuff, in any case, that’s without a doubt.
No doubt about “The Thing In The Mirror”, this is extreme Metal. Again of the haunting kind and with sawing guitars. The growls fit perfectly and are typical for the genre. There’s also a nice Thrashy outbreak! Of course you get blasts as well, here with symphonic backing. Afterwards it’s back to the verses and the melodic influence becomes more important (piano, symphonic elements). I must say, it’s the drums that stand out here, while the guitars’ input remains quite constant, though not less important, obviously. The vocals in the haunting chorus reminded a bit of Paul Kuhr’s (NOVEMBERS DOOM). The music is definitely not of the birds and bees kind, unless these creatures are the dangerous sort, full of fury and aggression. That’s what the riffing at least indicates. The hymnic vocals of before (by Laurens Vannijvel) are present here, too. Around halfway the music also changes to make way for the solo, but then everything Metal falls silent. This allows for an entry of an atmospheric, melodic moment (piano and symphonic element) before the aggressive darkness sets in again, blasting its way towards the end, lead by growls.
“Eyeless – Soulless” is a fast and aggressive track in which the guitars sound lower than before and piano melodies are nicely woven into the verses. They link smoothly with the bombastic chorus. The vocals are, for obvious reasons, extreme: screaming and growling. All elements together – add to that the change in tempo and rhythm – form one of an attack on the mind. Definitely not easy-listening music! A spoken sample rounds it off, but who’s doing the talking, I don’t know (some politician?). In addition, this song could have come off AXAMENTA’s killer album “Ever-Arch-I-Tech-Ture” from 2006. This first part ends with “Code Noir”, a midtempo Black Metal track that reminded me of COVENANT (since several year known as THE KOVENANT) and their “Nexus Polaris” album. It’s a long song with bombastic moments, especially in the last 2-3 minutes. The song also ends with a touch of sad melodies. The verses and the growling contrast with the slower, symphonic chorus (featuring Laurens Vannijvel on vocals). Over halfway the band kicks into a theatrical mood, letting the music do the talking.
After their gig in October 2011 (in support of GOD DETHRONED), I bought HERFST’s full-length “Necrotica” and found it very worthwhile melodic Death/Black Metal. Also because the lads managed to convince me of their live skills. Hearing new stuff makes it nice to see how the band is doing and they’re doing fine, very fine. Dan Swanö did a very good job, but I did have the impression that the guitars could have used a few extra layers, just to make it more solid, a bit thicker there. But that detail aside, I can only say: If the mix of Death and Black Metal with a melodic sauce is your kind of dish (or even if you enjoy it from time to time), then “The Deathcult Pt. I – An Oath In Darkness” is an EP you must own. No doubt about that.
- Prologue – An Oath In Darkness
- Tonight It Descends
- The Thing In The Mirror
- Eyeless – Soulless
- Code Noir
Matthieu – vocals
Bram – guitar
Christophe – guitar
Kurt – bass
Ruben – drums