Released: 2007, Source Of Deluge
It's an overused catchphrase, usually used as a tagline for various movies, but some secrets really should stay buried. Take as a prime example FILL THE VOID, the only full-length recording of the short-lived German group Fenris. Originally formed as The Intrüders in 1991, the group changed their name fairly early on, recorded and released one demo and this album, and then split up when their bassist and drummer left the group for personal reasons. The disc was considered "lost" for over a decade until someone over at German label Source of Deluge apparently thought it would be a good idea to pick up the rights to the old recordings, add some new cover art, and re-release it on an unsuspecting public. To say this was a mistake is a vast understatement. Let me start off with the obvious - okay, the band name is Fenris, the name of the gigantic wolf of Norse mythology who bit the hand from the arm of the god Tyr. The new cover artwork - plain, boring, and altogether unoriginal as it is - shows a sword blade. The first song is titled "Anvil Of Crom" - and "Crom," of course, ist der gott vhich Coh-nan der Bahbaarian vorships. (Apologies, but it was too tempting to write that statement with an Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger accent.) So, with all that in mind, this must be sword-swinging power metal, right? Wrong. This is more like progressive metal...really, really awful progressive metal.
To be fair, there's some obvious musical talent in the group. At least one of the two guitarists can play some pretty decent guitar leads, the bassist has got some decent chops, and the drummer gets a chance to show off some nice skinswork here and there. Unfortunately, that's about all the positive things I can say about this album, because it seems like nothing but a hodgepodge of ideas randomly slapped together with lousy and unclear production, absolutely no memorable riffs, no memorable melodies, and quite frankly no semblance of direction or cohesion. Maybe my definition's a little different than yours, but for me, "progressive" does not mean "string a bunch of random musical ideas together with no sense of flow from one to another and call them songs." Mediocre and disjointed as opening track "Anvil Of Crom" is, it didn't really hit me how messed up this album was until the second cut started off with what sounded like an attempt at a jazz-funk-fusion popping bass line. Interesting idea, sure, but totally inappropriate for the music - if better produced, it might work for songs from a true prog band like Spock's Beard or Transatlantic, but it does not fit at all with the decidedly boring and lackluster remainder of the song. It doesn't help vocalist Michael Tegge is trying his best to emulate John Artch throughout the album and failing utterly miserably, running his voice through long and shriekingly discordant "Aaaahh-Aaaaaah-Aaaaah!" high-note passages, warbling all over and outside of his range and often going completely off-key in the process, constantly using far too much in the way of reverb effects, and occasionally jarringly shifting sung notes up or down an entire octave, sometimes in the middle of a word. His opening scream on the first track set just about every available nerve on edge and it didn't get much better at any given point. John Artch is a valid point of reference, actually, as it's fairly obvious Fenris was attempting to channel some early Fates Warning and maybe a touch of old Queensryche here and there. Unfortunately, they did a terrible job of it.
The bottom line is this is thirty-six minutes of audio torment, and I can't recommend it to anyone. Unless you are the sort who absolutely must buy every single "kvlt" re-release just because it's "rare," avoid FILL THE VOID like the plague.