There’s a lot of strangeness contained within Baphomet Wade, the latest album by one-man Norweigan act Furze. On the one hand, it’s very clearly a work of black metal eccentricity, full of twists and turns, shot through with a strong sense of blasphemy and, well, utter weirdness. But there’s just as many aspects of it that go back not just to first-wave or proto-black metal, but to those sounds which inspired the birth of the genre in the first place. There’s as much a classic rock and metal feel to it as there is a punk one, and if this description makes it all sound very confusing, that’s because it is. But by Satan, as much of a headfuck as Baphomet Wade is, it’s a hugely thrilling one, that’s probably as much fun as something can be whilst still being black metal.
That sense of danger and reckless fun is present early on, right after the short bombastic introduction to opener “Sathanas Is Here…”. Manic guitars and bass work combine to intense effect, propelled by pounding drums, and topped off with vocals that veer between an utterly kvlt rasp and King Diamond-esque theatrics. If you want you black metal monochrome and mindless, you’re in the wrong place – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but Furze are aiming for something totally different. There’s points where it all threatens to collapse, as if the song simply can’t contain itself, until the mid-point where the track comes to a sudden stop, before starting up again with an extended introduction (that is, if you can call it an introduction when you’re over halfway through a track). There’s a total disregard for how a song typically should progress, and it is glorious.
The following tracks are no less intense, oddball, and – yes – fun. There’s an undeniable punk feel to many of the riffs and guitar movements, but rather than the power-chord attack that normally implies, it’s more like black metal filtered through East Bay Ray’s best moments with the Dead Kennedys – lots of treble, deceptively technical, taking the conventions of the genre and taking them apart, to be put back together in new, strange ways. Even if the riffs often lack the grimness so typically associated with black metal, there’s no denying that they somehow fit in with the genre (though purists may disagree, but they probably turned off around the two minute mark anyway). There are moments that are pure kvlt though, such as the mid-tempo riff during “One Night Before The Other” (which, granted, is then followed by one of the best examples of Dead Kennedys-style guitar work on the album); whilst “R.O.D” features plenty of doom riffs and tempos, and the closing moments of “A Blacksmith For The Souls Of Metal” defy any genre categorization other than METAL.
Overall though, the chief impression created is of utter eccentricity. It’s one of the most twisted, bizarre, and utterly strange black metal releases in years, and a lot of people – hell, probably most people – who hear this record will hate it. Frankly, that’s their loss. Baphomet Wade is so bloody-minded, so confident in its supremely “fuck you!” approach, that I can’t help but love it. There’s no high-minded concept here as there often has been with other avant-garde black metal in the past, no illusions to high art as there are with the likes of Arcturus or Deathspell Omega. Indeed, at no point does any of this strangeness – the twists and turns, the sudden drop-offs, the vocal theatrics – feel pre-meditated or as if it’s trying to be strange and awkward. Rather, it feels as if Furze is just doing what comes naturally. This is raw black metal possessed of a more human weirdness, inspired not so much by classic literature or demonic possession, but by the simple joy that comes of playing such music at blistering speeds and deafening volume (make no mistake, the vast majority of this album is played at frankly ridiculous speeds). Each song has moments that make it feel like a stand-out track, and there’s almost no let up during the course of the album’s 41 minutes. A dozen listens on, Baphomet Wade has lost none of its weirdness, intensity, or enjoyment. Heavily recommended for anyone looking for something adventurous and challenging in their black metal.