Furnace – The Casca Trilogy


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Furnace – The Casca Trilogy
Obelisk Polaris Productions
Release Date: 23/02/23
Running Time: 02:01:33
Review by Laura Barnes

I always enjoy it when a band’s name accurately describes their music. A band’s name is the hint we get into what they actually sound like – from a branding perspective, it’s serious business (trust me, I’ve watched, like, three seasons of The Apprentice). This is why I refuse to listen to Wet Leg, for example. I can’t shake the idea that listening to them would be the auditory equivalent of spilling coffee down your lap. Thankfully, Furnace have made a wise choice with their band name. They play exactly the sort of music you would expect a band called Furnace to play – fiery and furious death metal, simple yet compelling. Still, don’t mistake their simple sound for a lack of ambition. Furnace are fueled by a love of concept albums and complex melodies, so it’s no surprise that they really shoot for the moon with their latest release, a triple album entitled “The Casca Trilogy”.

As you can probably guess from the whole ‘triple album’ thing, “The Casca Trilogy” is a concept album, with each CD taking place in a different historical setting. When I say that Furnace are shooting for the moon with this release, I really do mean that they’re shooting for the fucking moon: this album begins with the death of Christ and ends with World War I. This well-oiled time machine of melodeath traverses well over 1000 years of history, and personally I think more melodic death metal bands should be upping their game to this level. Go big or go home lads! 

Anyway, I digress. “The Casca Trilogy” follows the story of a young Roman soldier named Casca Rufio Longinus, who we are introduced to during the opening track, ‘Legionary’. During this song, it occurs to me how perfect Melodic Death Metal is for telling a story of this type. The ebb and flow of the crushing heaviness provided by the vocal and rhythm sections and the gentler melodies provided by the guitars work to encapsulate the contrast between how Casca presents himself, and the person he really is. Despite the foreboding generated by the instrumentals, the lyrics present Casca as an inexperienced warrior who has only ever fought with a wooden sword and shield and has never left home. When the track reaches its conclusion with vocalist Rogga Johansson bellowing ‘MY BLOOD IS THE BLOOD OF ROME’, it’s an awesome, goosebump-inducing moment, but in the light of everything that follows, it hints at Casca’s own naivety and ignorance. Soon, everything in Casca’s life will change. On Casca’s first assignment in Jerusalem, he is ordered to murder Jesus on the cross (no, really), as detailed in the absolutely chilling track, ‘Until We Meet Again’. Here, Furnace hit the brakes and really give each instrument a chance to breathe, and even introduce subtle piano elements. Meanwhile, the bass gives this track a sense of being a slow march to oblivion – which, in a sense, it is. This track marks the moment where, as Casca sinks his spear into Jesus’ chest, Jesus curses him, saying, ‘You are content with who you are, then that you shall remain, until we meet again’. These are by far my favourite lyrics on the album; a man who has never paused to do any inner reflection in his life has now been cursed with immortality. Now, he has nothing but time to reflect. And thus kicks off the inciting incident of the album. 

The impact of this curse is felt on ‘Brink of Mortality’, as Casca survives a brutal attempt on his life that should have been fatal. The overlapping vocals shared out between Johansson and backing backing vocalist Lars Demoké towards the end give the track a wonderful conclusion, while also perfectly conveying the confusion and terror pulsing through Casca’s still-beating heart. The rest of the first CD continues in this manner – penultimate track ‘The Evermore’ is blistering and explosive as it dials back the melody, takes notes from older death metal, and sprinkles in just a dash of glittery thrash (omg, that rhymed!). The result is jaw-droppingly good, unbelievably fucking good, so fucking good in fact that it kind of ends up overshadowing the closing number of the first CD, ‘Sworn To Wander’. Still, I have feasted like a queen on this first third of the album, and believe me when I tell you, it left me hungry for seconds. 

CD numero dos sees Casca in the undisputedly most metal of historical settings: Viking raids. After trying and failing to defend a monastery from the raids, Casca finds himself captured by our horn-helmed friends in ‘Death By Decree’, a song that somehow manages to convey total hopelessness while also boasting a riff more infectious than chicken pox. Now that Casca is slumming it with the Vikings, things start to get really fun. ‘Beneath the Sky (Our Torment)’, for example, is a track that is very, very depressing (which I, of course, bloody love) and also sees Casca at his most vulnerable yet. Maybe I’m just a sucker for dramatic irony, but there’s something incredibly compelling about somebody who’s entire life has been ruled by violence longing for peace. If you like your metal a little bouncier, however, don’t fear – ‘Midvinterbolt’ and ‘In Hel Together’ have you covered. ‘In Hel Together’ uses gang vocals, and there’s something about the pacing and liveliness of this track that gives me Children Of Bodom vibes. Oh, yeah, and there’s also a song called ‘Blood Eagle’, because are you really making Viking-themed metal if you don’t have a song about a blood eagle? Anyway, it has some chilling, folky vocals that gives the track that extra atmospheric oomph. Paired with lyrics that describe the ritual with an almost clinical detail, this track makes you feel like you, too, are sat solemnly round a fire, bearing witness to human brutality and human shame.

The futility of human violence is a theme that Furnace are keen to explore throughout “The Casca Trilogy”. The final CD takes place during World War One, meaning that the Bolt Thrower vibes are palpable. Although Furnace are much more into their melodies than Bolt Thrower, I do think that Rogga Johansson’s vocals do have a slight resemblance to Karl Willett’s, and that’s no bad thing. After all, metal about modern warfare should sound as brutal as its subject matter, lest it come across as juvenile and shallow. The Bolt Thrower influences feel strongest on ‘P.O.W.s’, with a thick and crunchy riff that reminds me of ‘The Killchain’. However, Johansson and Svensson also demonstrate their vocal versatility on this third CD – ‘In The Eyes Of A Dreary Winter’ becomes what I might even call blackened death metal, with vocals and guitars that prioritise power over melody. Maybe I’m just a sucker for atmospheric shit, but from where I’m standing this is one of the best tracks on the entire triple album, not just this CD. ‘Alone With Bullets’ is another highlight on this final third; alongside conveying the chaos of war, this song does a great job of portraying the loneliness that comes with immortality, the exhaustion and detachment that is an inevitable consequence of a long life. “The Casca Trilogy” spans three major periods of history, yet when the last few piano notes of ‘War Is My Destiny’ fade out, the album leaves you wondering: has anything really changed?

Let me be clear: this is two hours of Death Metal. Much like their name, Furnace have an uncomplicated sound. If you don’t like Melodic Death Metal, you won’t like this. But if you do like death metal, then “The Casca Trilogy” delivers, delivers, and delivers. Consider it a three course metal meal – Bon appétit!

CD 1 – Legionary
01. Legionary
02. Another Execution
03. Until We Meet Again
04. Shadows on a Moonless Night
05. Brink of Mortality
06. Cursed With Life
07. The Savage North
08. Where Life and Death Unite
09. The Evermore
10. Sworn To Wander

CD 2 – Thralls and Blot
01. Where the Sea Meets the Sky
02. Wrath of the North
03. Death by Decree
04. Thrall
05. Beneath the Sky (Our Torment)
06. Midvinterbolt
07. In Hel Together
08. Blood Eagle
09. Land of the Pettr (Pictland)
10. Only Time

CD 3 – The Guns of August
01. Two Thousand Years
02. Visions of Glory
03. Trench Warfare
04. P.O.W.s
05. In the Eyes of a Dreary Winter
06. Armistice
07. A War of Attrition
08. Kill or Capture
09. Alone With Bullets
10. War Is My Destiny

Rogga Johansson – Guitars and Lead Vocals
Peter Svensson – Bass and Backing Vocals
Lars Demoké – Drums and Percussion


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.



Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of [user_login] and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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