FBK was formed in 2004 and have made three full-lenght albums since then - this, their newest one, being the only one I've heard this far. Although they haven't achieved too much of a name yet, they were opening up for Venom in Poland earlier this year, which should already tell one something. This specific album is themed around Islamic faith and Qur'an, with more specific topics such as underage brides, war and female circumsicion.
The album begins with some cold synths leading to a piano melody, but they may mislead you; despite such elements that are familiar to melodic black metal, the song soon turns into a mid-paced but very violent one. The band employs a cold and harsh but also rather clear soundscape, one that emits coldness but still fits both the melodies as well as the more death metal -style guitar comping and heavy shredding. I think that the afore described mixture of black metal's coldness and death metal-churning is the thing that defines the album, and gives it a lot of its individual character. From the couple of acoustic intedludes to pretty much anything, it is clear that all the songs have been composed with care and effort, and even daring when it comes to mixing the (in a way) traditional cold and minimal synth-work with heavier death metal-riffs, as well as mixing together the very lively guitar solos and the crude and blasting black metal.
The album is very thought-out. All the songs have a distinctive style and way of progress that goes hand in hand with their themes; for example, "Messenger's Harlot" is a rather slow, heavy and even evil-sounding track with growling vocals to make the atmosphere fit the theme and darkness of pedophilia, whereas the songs four and five describe war, oppression and such militant themes, and the respective songs are way faster and more aggressive. The songs don't waltz straight to their core, but rather build up the appropriate feel until it's all ready for for the final reveal to really bring forth the atmospheres and themes. The same goes for the whole album; it doesn't have a certain high point it's going for, it's more close to an analysis on the band's thoughts about the religion and what they want you to know about it, separated into six chapters. It is a whole album, consisting of six different but still unified aspects, and none of them is even meant to rise above the other as being better than the rest.
As you can guess from all that I wrote above, the band really explores their theme thoroughly on the album and delivers their message - if you want to hear it. Personally I found the theme to restrict the album's musical side, meaning that the band had to hold down the songs' potential in order to deliver the thematic whole in the best possible unison with the music. If they had chosen a more free theme or various themes, I suspect that they could've executed and mixed together all their different elements from the rawest blasts to the most melodic parts with ease, while creating a whole with more of an edge and impact. I'm not sure if they should continue using the cold synths either, as now it seems as if the coldness restricts the heaviest moments, and the soundscape is a bit too clear and softened for the rawness and melodies to deliver their full impact. It's a perfect compromise between the extremes, but I think the band is trying to go for a too broad scale of different elements all at once.
If you want to hear some serious and dedicated black metal, and aren't afraid of death metal either, I can warmly recommend this album. I'll be keeping an eye on the group, hoping that their next offering delivers nothing suppressed. A better layout wouldn't hurt either, as the booklet seems to have been thrown together with no imagination.