‘Les Irreals Versions’ is the latest release from Catalan band Foscor, and seeks to explore how their own music can be re imagined to provoke different feelings and reactions. Most tracks are re releases from their last album, ‘Les Irreals Visions’, (the one exception being L.amor.t from ‘Those Horrors Wither’) As such, it can be seen as both a continuation of, and a follow up to, the sounds and feelings developed in that previous album.

Throughout the six tracks, there are some wonderful choices that add everything from old school gothic tones to almost folkish guitar lines. While tracks like Instants and Les Irreals Visions show off some different time signatures and positively mature throughout their own run times, other tracks like Altars and Encenalles De Mort use the newer instrumentation create heavy, oppressive feelings that play with discord and harmony. These sorts of sounds are, for my taste, too little heard in metal, and to hear it done so deliberately is refreshing, even if the reverb faders seem glued to full for most of the album.

This album chooses to forsake the tradition of using heavy and soft songs to break up an album and instead uses contrasting feelings and soundscapes to bring light and shade to their work, and for this reviewer it absolutely works. It’s a beautifully crafted work, at times heavy and emotive, others melancholy and serene. Throughout its entirety Foscor play with discord and harmony through everything from walls of sound to near silent reflection. The craftsmanship on display is exquisite, the takes on the songs are at times unconventional but never jarring, and there are depths on display that feel rare in metal genres.

More than anything, though, there is a discipline here that for this reviewer is comparatively lacking in the original tracks. A lot of credit should be given to Javi Félez of Moontower Studios, whose mixing really brings Foscor’s re-workings to life with a care that is necessary for atmospheric tracks like this to work. Similarly, it’s hard to understate what credit Foscor themselves and Albert M deserve for being able to take a step back from their own work and create such a different take on it so soon after the original tracks were released. To wax poetic, the overall feeling of this album is like lying in a small boat, floating on an ocean at night, half awake, not knowing which movements are real or are imagined, and which sensations are true. However, either way, it feels warm and comforting, and I am enjoying the ride.

As a new listener to Foscor and one fascinated by the art of re-interpreting, I felt that this album would be done a disservice by not listening to the original tracks and some of the back catalogue that led to this place. I originally listened to ‘Les Irreals Versions’ without context, and then again after hearing the older material. Having done so, I found myself somewhat conflicted. These tracks will be taken differently if you have heard the original recordings, that is unavoidable. Some of these speak to an earlier time in the band’s development, and while I was very impressed by the developments, I would not be surprised if fans of earlier work still preferred the originals. Personally, I do think the new album holds up by itself, but the context of the previous songs certainly shows more of the character in the band, particularly in listening to how they’ve chosen to re-interpret their own works. Every track is assisted by knowledge of where it, and in fact Foscor as a whole, have come from. I personally was split when it came to preference between the older and newer tracks, but it’s impossible to deny that each interpretation is creative, deliberate and confident in its artistic merits.

While every track stands up alone, might I recommend that for your first listen, you find yourself a quiet place, throw some headphones in or chuck this on your best stereo, take a deep breath, stretch out, and then let yourself be immersed in this album. Like all the best atmospheric metal, it’s something best listened to complete, and you’ll be rewarded finely for the time.

You can purchase Foscor’s ‘Les Versions Irreals’ here:
https://foscor.bandcamp.com/album/les-irreals-visions