Swedish one-man project Srodek seemingly has all the elements in place: a mysterious foreign band name, a bleak winter scene adorning the cover of their album, and good connections, with mainman Jon Bäcklund aka Nekrofucker also doing session and live work for Svarti Loghin. With that kind of pedigree you’d expect this album to be at least decent, and for the most part it delivers. Förfall is a little inconsistent, but when the album is at its best it delivers a beautifully subtle take on black metal that evokes man’s solitary, primitive roots.
The first couple tracks of the album are easily the standouts, and Förfall’s sparse atmosphere is best expressed here. Pretty much everything is very simple and stripped down, with the padded guitar tone weaving slowly shifting melodies over a backdrop of muted drums. The vocals on the album are what really set Förfall apart, taking the form of a distant, anguished scream that blends with the music and the visuals to bring the album cover’s primitive forest dwelling to life in the listener’s mind. One can also hear tidbits of Svarti Loghin’s sound in some of the melodic lines, so fans of that band will probably take to this project quite easily. This is unmistakably raw black metal, but instead of pummeling the listener with a lo-fi tremolo attack like a lot of bands, Srodek uses stripped down production to craft a more primal, exquisite listening experience.
Förfall’s quality takes a bit of a dive over the second half of the album, which is definitely a shame, but honestly an album like this that’s focused mainly on atmospheric effect doesn’t benefit from a great deal of variation, and I imagine it’s a huge challenge to craft songs that all sound pretty similar but still maintain a level of interest over the course of an album. The fact that Förfall delivers a couple really great tracks is enough for me to recommend that black metal fans at least give it a few spins.