I've been enjoying the diversity of Turkish music here at Apocalypse Later, with bands like Forgotten, Uluru and Metalium alike only in nationality and quality, given that they play doom/death metal, a hybrid of psychedelic/space rock and thrash metal respectively. Here's another style played with some real panache, melodic death metal, courtesy of Istanbul's Furtherial, though there are other elements here too, most overtly progressive metal but also some thrash and power metal. Liberation is their third studio album, though they also put out a two part EP in 2017 and 2018 that could easily count as another.
Including a few years as Extinction, they've been around since 2007 and they've only had a single line-up change in that entire time, Önder Işkın replacing Ozan Murat Özfen on bass in 2014. They're just as tight as that history suggests, which is essential because songs with as much staccato riffing as Dusk Above and Back to the Ocean kind of require it. Had they been less tight, this wouldn't remotely have worked. That it does speaks volumes.
I liked the opener, Tailor of Dreams, which boasts a neat intro, but it was Dusk Above that sold me on the band. Lethean follows it and may be even better. These songs are technical and complex, but they have a bounce to them that's infectious. Başer Çelebi's voice even ventures into power metal for the chorus. Estranged is bouncier still and its insanely simple three note rising riff reminded me a lot of Toranaga. They slayed live and I'd love to see if Furtherial do too.
I'm not quite as sold on the slower, deeper section, because it feels like Furtherial always want to keep the pedal down unless they're getting soft and introspective. Going for a doomy vibe doesn't work as well, but it's capably performed and Çelebi's vocal tone stays as rich as the guitars, just a tad deeper. He covers a lot more ground on the next song, Clashing Stories, including a section where he shifts to a clean voice. He does that particularly well midway through The Old Man too, so it's fair to say that he certainly doesn't feel married to one particular style and that's always promising.
Surely the best thing about this album is that the standard never drops across eight tracks and forty minutes of music, even if my favourite tracks tend to be early ones. The eight and a half minute song, Truth in Existence, doesn't feel longer than anything else, even if the average song here merely runs four or five. There are parts that elevate each song, many of them softer, intricate guitar passages. To prove the exception to every rule, I love the build to a crescendo late in Back to the Ocean, as well as the final thrashy blitz to the finish, which is over too soon.
I should point out that Çelebi isn't just the vocalist in this band, he also contributes a rhythm guitar to back up Bora İnce's lead. They complement each other well, so it rarely seems like one is taking care of the riffs while the other solos. Işkın's bass is perfectly placed in the excellent mix, making it easy to follow, which I always appreciate. Versatile drummer Berkay Yıldırım fills out the line-up but is really the backbone to this band. It was obvious that he was reliable, just listening to a couple of songs, but finishing up the album and especially playing it through again highlights just how much he does.
It's not even a week into the new year, but I think I've found my first 8/10 for 2021 and I think it's fair to say, given the rise of prog rock over the last year, that I wasn't expecting it to be a Turkish melodic death metal album. But hey, discovery is what Apocalypse Later is all about. My highly recommended list for 2021 is now one album long. Let's see how much and how soon it grows!