Forgotten Tomb
... And Don't Deliver Us From Evil

I’m admittedly one of those criminals that only first got around to discovering Forgotten Tomb‘s work with their fifth (previous) release, Under Saturn Retrograde.  That being said, I immediately dug the way this project’s mastermind came up with a brand of black metal that simply isn’t solely comprised of the elements shaping up this genre traditionally; he went from fully tossing the veil off of the doom root of all metal, taking a few shoegazy side-routes along the way without diving into cheesy excess, and also had an uncanny talent for tossing in a dark alternative rock spin that actually sounded good and enticing, rather than plainly horrible and unfitting. Thus, it’s impossible to classify this guy’s approach with one single stylistic stamp; he covers the whole goddamned roadmap of everything and anything that can actually translate into a grimness that has multiple shades of grey in and of itself. He nailed this concept expertly on the previous album, whereas in the case of ”…And Don’t Deliver Us from Evil…”, there’s a clearly larger amount of focus on the mood in most of the tunes presented here, as opposed to an actually hands-on intention to sound mind-boggingly seasoned musically. I’m not going against what the mainman says of this album himself; he did mature in terms of focusing where he wants to take this sound, only it didn’t end up staying in an area of blossom I’d expected would be completely natural, and a lot more libertine and candid than this. Nevertheless, this is a record that has punch when it comes to the emotion it wants to get across, and not only does the point get driven home with a fucking start, it stays with you after one single spin of the album. For that, it’s rewarding. Still, I don’t think I expected almost half of the record to be anywhere near weak, and I did catch myself with that very thought mostly in the second half of this deal.

Opener ”Deprived” is the sole take on a truly black n’ roll approach I actually enjoy out of the two songs that carry this sort of endeavor on this relatively short record. It has a fairly dirty and doomy intro, and immediately brings the word Accessible to mind, which was one of FT’s main guns on the previous effort, and frankly, it comes off as being in perfect shape, still, at least in the case of this tune. It still has a blackened/proggy first verse showcasing a very signature stamp on the guitar sound that really is very hard to resist, even for someone that doesn’t necessarily get into this latest wave of proggier and shoegazier bands that seem to take over the scene since ’bout ’09. The chorus is absolutely memorable, sounding no less than desolate, even in the midst of a track with a rock feel. All the patterns are recurring and that’s all well and good, cos they’re fucking fun to listen to, exactly for what they are. It’s heartfelt and firing on all cylinders at the same time, which sure as hell is something not everyone attempts with immediate success, or any sort of an acceptable result at all. It doesn’t get boring, and damned near reaches the seven minute mark. I’m especially digging the doomy riffs around 3.06, and 3.33 has this shoegazy cue that, as I’ve been emphasizing plenty, sure is no sort of new terrain for FT. It’s gotta be said that in the first half of this release, it seems to always be incorporated in the right space of a tune so that it really works with the rest of its elements and doesn’t overstep and drown out their efficiency. It’s definitely the case here, and hence, sounds particularly brilliant. This leads into bone-chilling bleakness that I just adore. It’s beautifully enchanting with great leads tossed in, that really sound rather mesmerizing. May I add, they’re far too rare on this record, I’m left with a craving for more of these after seven songs.

The title track could easily fool anyone into thinking the black metal is actually happening full blast all through this track, but it’s quick to shape up into something else in this particular project’s typical fashion. It still seems to take a straight dive into that more darkly psychedelic area of thought and pattern the main man indicates while talking about this album as a whole. This feel is more obvious here than on the previous song, but that torch definitely gets carried throughout, and maybe more insistently further on, although this is a neat kickstart, and certainly varied. It’s actually the most nuanced song on this whole ordeal. It takes about two minutes to actually develop into this unfurling of instinctive journeys, but the wait is worth it. At 1.37, this mind-numbing scream of the main man’s tags along with phantomatic (get that volume UP; it won’t kill the ambiance, but simply add an extra layer of awesome to these tracks and especially the slightly meh ones) leads and a steady, energized drum gallop. It all has this epic frostbitten feel, but it leans more towards the Swedish melodic metal overtones than the genuinely Norwegian black metal mantra as it progresses. It soon (unexpectedly this time) takes the shoegaze turn with very enthused and interesting basswork, although that’s quick to go straight back on the main road the song initially picked. It’s all very well-connected and all the parts mesh perfectly, although the mid-paced stroll around 4.55 seems less enticing than the rest of the trickery. It feels like a flat area of the song, if anything, but as it progressively goes into a doomier, more southern rock’ish mood at 5.30, I suddenly get what the whole point is, and it wasn’t easy to foresee; who could’ve guessed this type of general stylistic idea for the song as a whole could go there? This is the main thing I dig about my Forgotten Tomb. It doesn’t care about the roadmap, and simply goes where it damn well sees fit, never fearing impulsivity, or almost never.

”Cold Summer” is also absolutely sweet for what it is and blends the filthiness of the doom core the man loves to explore, alongside the polar opposite being the shoegaze avenue he’s trying to wrap up this monster into. It’s an interesting sort of contradiction and yet doesn’t seem like a genuine one here. It’s definitely unique. Anyhow, the intro definitely swims in this shoegaze ambiance. It’s contemplative and smooth, but somewhat completely deranged all the same. It dives into a sort of a blend of doom and post-rock in the first verse, putting lots of emphasis on extremely soul-draining chords. It’s a very raw and lovely section. The slow-paced drumming also has plenty of punch, and the vocal is, yet again, puking out demonical and bipolar emotion like fuck-all matters. It’s impossible not to dig the incredibly dirty guitarwork, and the stumbly, almost zombified drumming (in this case, it sounds absolutely fitting and awesome, make no mistake). It drives the point home in a stellar and immediate manner. There’s even more urgency to the second verse thanks to that same drumming that, in this case, goes against the grain to stick out, on more of a furious roll. Still, I’m preferring the mid-paced stroll underneath the man’s screams, and the way it kicks back into the thick and genuinely doom dwellings. At 4.56, the riffery sounds almost more maniacal than it did to begin with, and a lot filthier, and even downright friggin’ sexier. Against all odds, 5.53 starts cruising along the sidelines of what sounds like actual black metal with some atonal and strongly eerie background stringwork. And I’ll be damned, it sounds like classic F.T. and is one of the highlights of this album as a sole fleeting passageway this tune decided to take off the damned cuff.

The fourth track is the moment where I lost some understanding for the general direction and pacing of things. Actually, I was horrified at this song. Not only did the title (”Let’s Torture Each Other”) point blank said everything about how goofy it’s bound to be, but I ended up staring a Satyricon-goes-MTV-friendly piece of shit in the face. The semi-dark alternative sound of the intro was okay to my ears at first, with its accessible main bassline I didn’t think really reeked at that point. What made me jump straight out of my skin was that it seemed like it was ruining the general endeavor of what I’d heard so far into this generally promising deal. 56 seconds in, there’s suddenly more of a malevolent intent surfacing up, thanks to which I realized this was gonna be a black and roll tune, without fail. I hence knew it was gonna have absolutely all the aspects of a filler. In all due respects, it’s not the worst stinker I’ve ever heard; it’s still sorely unnecessary and uninspired. In fact, it becomes a zoneout as soon as the second verse kicks in, which doesn’t feel like it took too long, regardless of the song being a quarter past six minutes long. About three minutes in, the keyboard sample barging in sounds almost oddly techno-friendly, and the acoustic stringwork is lame and sleep-inducing at best. Everything veers towards a mid-paced stroll that has nothing to do with the rest of the song, but instead of that being the blessing I was hoping it would be, it only comes off as directionless and piss poor. Things definitely get better when the soaring background leads get back on board. At least, I can say the feeling is definitely back. It’s the sole part of the tune that I manage to dig, albeit the doomy kick at 4.25 is a strongly (and oddly, all things considered) sub-par one. It feels this song consciously keeps on trying to get into that radio-friendly schtick, which sure isn’t the man’s best bet, especially on this one album. On the previous effort, interestingly enough, it was done well; here, it simply shouldn’t exist

Luckily, ”Love Me Like You’d Love the Death” has this bleak depressive/contemplative mindset that I absolutely love, and it predictably enough has nothing to do with whatever the previous track was on. This hat most definitely fits this guy’s head better. The lead work develops into quite the skillful and libertine series of wanderings. It’s very calculating, and hollow to the bone. The vocal also gets more and more insistent as the song goes, which is one of this project’s most kickass feats; this front man sure can wail. The chorus is pretty cool; and, again, the lead work is the whole magic of this one tune. The second verse is the same as the first, but considering this approach works well for what it is, it ain’t a flaw. It’s not trying to be overflashy; it’s authentic and true to its core, and that’s how I like my Forgotten Tomb, period. The mid-section around 5.20 is truly in this calculating and low vibe that doesn’t seem to go anywhere, but interestingly enough, this full-circle motion illustrates a wandering into that emotional spot that’s simply endless and stuck in a rut, and this illustration has a valid point in this picture. It’s not really a song that evolves; it’s like it’s sitting into a profound sorrow and wallowing in it, and I would think this is exactly what this music is trying to express most times. ”Adrift” is a tad less memorable to these ears, even though it tags along with the previous cut in terms of a mindframe. The kick ass clean vocal goes atop an energetic drum pace that quickly switches back to the high-pitched screams and the slow stroll for what feels like a good and balanced affect at first. There’s lots of variation in this drum pattern. The background string work sure ain’t that hollow; it’s sort of airy and almost Alcest‘y here. Most the song’s patterns are recurring, making it a touch more accessible; still, it’s a different kinda cat. That being said, the contemplative bass work embraced by the acoustic string work about mid-track sort of force things to get plainly boring at that point. 4.50 seems to indicate some kind of build-up towards something promising, and the urgency is definitely on board, if not all *that* mind-shattering; that was a false prophet, going back to the main stroll of the verses underneath the heartfelt and still wonderful wails of the front man’s. I guess it works for what it is. It’s far from original and even pretty run-of-the-mill by now, although it ain’t entirely dated yet.

Final cut ”Nullifying Tomorrow” fails to convince as well, at least on this end. There’s an engaging entrance into the matter with plenty of urgency to it though. Still, it was already pretty damned clear it wasn’t gonna be a major departure from the rest of the album, which has its good, and clearly bad sides at this point. The mood is definitely there; the variation isn’t. Considering this guy has many takes on his own approach, he could’ve kept on mixing them up, especially as he wraps the record. The leads seem to want to take the reigns at 1.41 but they’re too damned quick to fade off. If they were a lot more present, they’d amp up this mood he’s striving to get across. This is far too linear. Actually, even by the three minute mark, it doesn’t manage to stun at all. The sound’s extremely layered in some places, although misproportioned in terms of the production; at 3.28, there’s FAR too much echo on the acoustic string work. It buries the rest to a point where even the drums are particularly choking up under the rug. 3.50 finally introduces some kind of a bonghit of a slowing in pace, although it dives into the lamest acoustic string work again. About 5 minutes in though, thanks to the ultimate despair of the vocals, the feel of it all gets quite shiver-inducing anyway. The leads come back into the tableau on this very cool cue, and the tune is smoothly rounded out by circular string work and bass work, atop of very relaxed mid-paced drumming.

I’m left puzzled by the second half of this release, for the most part. I’m quite sure this is only a valley in the experimentation process this man (and band) is on, and I also know the purpose is absolutely valid, and that it will pay off in the long run. There’s some goodness to be found herein, especially for diehards of the softer endeavors this sound can take, which goes straight against the general idea that it was supposed to be *entirely* darker than previous albums; still, the potential of the record’s best assets is strong enough to make this qualify as a very good disc, even though it doesn’t quite reach the threshold of the greatness it could’ve been capable of pulling blindfolded.\par

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Noch
November 8th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: ElGueroSinFe

    Pretty much sums up my feelings too – nice review. Love this band but this release left me puzzled.


  2. Commented by: Deepsend Records

    I actually enjoyed this album more than Under Saturn. I think it flows better. There’re some strange vocal choices on this album like the shitty In Flames talking on one track and occasional “eeeeeeyowwwww’s” that just flat out have zero power. But, I like the writing on this album much better than on their previous. I think the songs work more as an album than on Under Saturn.


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