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Following the rise and fall of Amesoeurs, black metal's love affair with ethereal post-punk (some might call it "coldwave") has varied dramatically in quality. Sure, there are, or at least have been bright, shining stars like Crooked Necks and Joyless (or even moments of Forgotten Woods, for that matter), but the proliferation of "black metal/post-punk" (read as: actually just 'depressive' black metal) mediocrity has taken what could be an interesting fusion out of the spotlight.

Dutch atmospheric black metal trio Laster's own forays into fusing the two styles have been few, but expected—each release containing either brief, fleeting moments or an entire song dedicated to gothic music's black lace. In the case of their preceding album, De Verste Verte Is Hier, the album's eponymous closer more closely resembled the works of Closed Session, And Also The Trees, or Asylum Party more so than the ethereal black metal which preceded it, but it also came as a disrupting departure. It was a great song, for sure, but breaking forty minutes of flow to meditate on a completely different genre is a risky move, and a stylistic fusion upon which I had sincerely hoped Laster would expand on future releases.

My desires achieved fruition with the upcoming Ons vrije fatum, and "Bitterzoet" unveils a much more mature, composed Laster. Opening with a familiar, pop-infused, ethereal nostalgia, "Bitterzoet" more efficiently places post-punk in the context of Laster's body of work overall. Weaving through periods of buzzing fury, shimmering nostalgia, and Burzumic plod, the band never fully leans to one side, foregoing sectioned fusion for something more organic and unique. Note the rumbling drum work in the introduction or the chiming, sustained resonance during the slower, more superficially blackened moments; Laster manages to eloquently fall in the hazy grey area between their two halves. In the grand scheme of the album, "Bitterzoet"'s adventurous nature still sticks out, but maintains the flow of a band who is still meditating on their own progressive spirit.

Dunkelheit Produktionen will release Ons vrije fatum on CD, cassette, and 2LP early 2017 (January 9th). Scroll below for an exclusive first listen to "Bitterzoet".

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