Forgotten Tomb
Nihilistic Estrangement

Oh, Forgotten Tomb. I’ve never forgotten you. How could I, baby? You gave me 2015’s Hurt Yourself and the Ones You Love. I purchased it on a whim in a record store that sadly no longer exists simply because the cover grabbed my attention. When gazing at the cover, one could easily dismiss it, call it pretentious black metal, and move on. I almost did. However, I was not disappointed. I had low expectations and they were greatly exceeded. You also gave me (and the rest of the world) 2017’s We Owe You Nothing, of which I purchased the special edition from overseas, didn’t much enjoy, then left alone. It took over 2 months to get it because it was ordered with another album, they only sent the other one, then questioned my integrity when I told them I did not receive Forgotten Tomb. I finally received it, was disappointed, and left it along. So, okay, maybe I did forget about you. It’s okay, though. I believe in second chances. Your album titles tell me you don’t care, but I do.

So, here we have the latest album from Forgotten Tomb entitled Nihilistic Estrangement. The promotional materials state that modern and vintage recording methods were used for the album, including some older microphones. It shows, too. Without knowing what was mentioned above, the recording already stood out. Herr Morbid’s vocals, while always vicious in my opinion, sound even more feral. The instruments are full, lush, and mostly devoid of modern sheen (and Martin Sheen). In summary, it sounds like a black metal album should.

The first song is charmingly titled “Active Shooter.” This song plods along for nearly 9 minutes, but doesn’t feel that long. Groovy, heavy, DSBM influenced black metal, and maybe even black ‘n’ roll is the name of the game here, containing vicious vocals and the lyrics to match. Even though the song itself may not seem like it is going anywhere, it gets the head moving, and is over before you know it. This is the Forgotten Tomb I remember, and I have high hopes for the rest of the album.

The title track, “Nihilistic Estrangement,” is the star of the show here. I’m sure that’s no coincidence. The first minute plus is slightly clean guitar, which appears more than once throughout the track, and serves as a backing for a significant portion of the runtime. There’s also a weeping lead which reappears throughout the track. With around 4 minutes left, clean guitar comes in, lasts about 30 seconds, then goes back into the main riff. With a minute and a half left, the clean guitar comes back in and stays until the conclusion. While this song is the longest on the album, it finds Forgotten Tomb at their peak. It writhes, moves, slithers, and works its way into your skin. It’s top notch songwriting, and this is where they excel.

The final track on the album “RBMK,” which I had to look up, is the type of nuclear reactor involved in the Chernobyl explosion (I feel Cher missed an opportunity to name an album of hers CHERnobyl). I learn something new every single day… Such as how to mention Cher’s name in a heavy metal review. Sorry, guys. If I could turn back time, I’d remove it. Oh, you still want to hear about the song? Well, this is definitely the only track on the album that could be defined as traditional black metal, although I think that might be a stretch. It’s mostly mid-paced, yet blast beat filled, and fades out at the end like any closing track should.

If I were to describe Nihilistic Estrangement in two words, those would be “vicious” and “confident.” To say I was looking forward to a new Forgotten Tomb album in 2020 would be an overstatement. However, when I saw the promo for it, I had to call dibs. I’m glad I did. While they certainly don’t need a “comeback,” this album feels like it to me. I am enjoying it far more than We Owe You Nothing. Believe it or not, I am also enjoying it more than Hurt Yourself and the Ones You Love.

Is this Forgotten Tomb’s magnum opus? I’m not quite sure as I have not heard every single entry into their catalog, but it was always on my agenda to do so. With their latest effort, that thought has been placed a little higher on my list. If there’s one minor complaint, there’s not a lot of variation between songs. With that being said, the album itself barely crosses the 40-minute mark, so it’s not too long. When listening, you probably won’t be checking your watch (let’s be honest, by “watch,” I mean the clock on your phone). Not that they give a single fuck what I think.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
May 22nd, 2020


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