Sear Bliss
Forsaken Symphony

Depending on your circumstances this is either the first work you will see in two years or the second release of 2002 after a four year absence. Forsaken Symphony is the second Red Stream release of 2002, with Grand Destiny being the first. Red Stream re-released Grand Destiny because Nephiim Records went bankrupt shortly after releasing it, thus no distribution to speak of. I myself bought the re-release just two months or so before getting Forsaken Symphony so bear that in mind as you continue reading, there is relevance to this wandering introduction. Grand Destiny is a return to heavy, brutal black after the melodic somewhat soft The Haunting, by a big increase in speed, especially the drumming. Forsaken Symphony brings the harsh edge even more to the foreground by incorporating the brass section into the heavy parts as well as the mellow ones. It occurs to me that while Sear Bliss is talented and flashy, they still manage to stay under the radar. Who are they? They hail from Hungary, named themselves after a line in a Charles Baudleaire poem, and have been playing some form of atmospheric low-fi black metal since 1993. The band dislikes the label atmospheric, downplays their obvious talents in interviews, and forsakes labeling, preferring simply “necro black metal, but different.” In a crude comparison, imagine Judas Iscariot crossing paths with older Satyricon. They are not psychedelic, industrial, gothic, or trendy, and have kept to the same style since 93, with each album having it’s own identity. Forsaken Symphony is once again dark pagan black with long songs of an epic, grandiose nature. They say it is a continuation of Phantoms, but it is not really a step back in time, it does not ignore all their work since 1998. There is more guitar generated melody than on Grand Destiny, with plenty of Candlemass like rhythms and of course their signature horns. This time the brass section is fully integrated into the songs as full time instruments to much better effect. The trademark trumpet, barytone and trombone are now boosted by a tuba. Especially considering all the recent line up changes, amounting to nine former members, it is a testament to the determination of the musicians to continually put out fine material. The biggest similarity to Phantoms is the heavy bass and pounding drums, the attitude of the music is more brutal again, but really only The Haunting could be perceived as soft on any level. Grand Destiny also had a very raw edge so Forsaken could also be hailed as a continuation of Grand Destiny. Maybe they feel they lost some fans over the years and this is an enticement to those older fans to come back into the fold. Maybe this return to the Darkthronesque origins of Sear Bliss is simply because they wanted a breather from several months worth of 14 hour days writing, rehearsing and performing a full blown opera score. Yes, that’s right, a black metal band was invited to write a musical score for director Vidnyánszky Attila’s “The Beggar’s Opera.” The band said, other than the strange looks they got from the actors, the hardest part was playing quietly enough to not drown out the singers. This dedication makes them the antithesis to Darkthrone, practicing three times a week for eight years. Basically, imagine Phantoms after 1000 rehearsals and you have got Forsaken Symphony. The intentionally primitive production is effective because it is not really lo-fi necro black and the excellent musicianship shows through. Many melodic, atmospheric bands, which they claim not to be, overproduce and lose the dark edge, The Haunting was guilty of that in places, but Sear Bliss has regained that intensity. Grand Destiny had a harsher production, especially for the bass, but overall Forsaken’s sound is still quite intense. Intense beats out ominous any day of the week. After listening to this disc many times over, tastes of Darkthrone, Immortal, Satyricon, classic metal, but what most comes to mind is Sear Bliss. Red Stream says they have a bombastic classical touch. I always thought of bombastic as pretentious, therefore I have to disagree, a grand orchestral feel, but certainly not pretentious. They have successfully combined a decade’s hard practicing into a majestic, dark, heavy Sear Bliss masterpiece. Is it also an extreme metal masterpiece? Only time will tell, but it certainly demands your attention.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
October 2nd, 2002


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