Hierophant Violent didn’t quite work out for us. Don’t ask me why, Forlesen‘s debut album just didn’t click, despite the magnificent album art. It might have been a case of sensory overload, who knows? It does happen, though, when too much metal1) (real or wannabe) suddenly blows yer senses to smithereens. And that’s a pity because this band’s debut got rave reviews – and somehow the RMR crew just phased out.
So, here we got our second chance to get a review out to the fawning fanbase. At first sight – Black Terrain sounds like one of the most enigmatic records that we got our hands on yet this year. And clocking in at about an hour with only four tracks, none of which below the 9-minute mark, this better be good.
So, as Strega rolled in with its sludgy, scratchy, doomy Post Metal sound, it was true witching hour for the crew here. Already the forlorn screams of the damned at the very beginning pricked our ears for good. This track possesses true power that slowly builds in intensity through a myriad of elements, styles, and flavors. In fact, it’s this 19-minute behemoth that made us continue with the rest of the record. And it’s also testament of the musical prowess of this band. It’s damn difficult to noodle your way through a ton of quiet, almost ambient passages with some metallic eruptions sprinkled in between and not lose the audience.
Forlesen here drone along with a sound that often seriously feels like a rougher version of the late Dawnwalker piece mixed with pig-headed somnambulant airs of Alcest and some Pink Floyd to go. In other words, downturned guitars meet wispy soundscapes that advance at a true funeral pace. Then you’ll get those long stretches of drony shoegaze, delicate synths, and atmospheric often cathedral showdowns fueled by real post-metallic power. All that comes on a foundation of ever-changing even dueling vocals, male and female. Then, suddenly, everything disintegrates into outbursts of darkly menacing and often progressive Doom and somewhat uneasy Black Metal. And that will rattle you awake from your dreamy journey down shoegaze road, believe me.
And yet. Not everything’s cool and dandy on Black Terrain. For instance, you’ll find a steady decline in quality as the tracklist progresses. And that’s a pity. Because for a top-notch performance you need a steadfast delivery of outstanding material. And it’s not that the decline led to abject levels of terror. It’s more that Harrowed Earth and its somewhat disjointed Black Metal assault didn’t jolt anything awake over here. Instead, it sounded like unfinished business that sits athwart the whole production.
Furthermore, Saturnine insists a tad too much on that laid-back darkly ambient approach to things. Even if we genuinely appreciated the track itself with its finely chiseled structures. In other words, if you pitch the rough-hewn beauty of Strega against the decadent yet noodly musings of Saturnine in competition, the mythical, ghostly beast will win hands down. But this is relatively small fry compared to the overall epic musings the record brings about.
In the end, Black Terrain needs to be consumed in one session and we shouldn’t worry too much about its intricate details. After all, this new piece is way more accessible than its predecessor ever was. And when the strangely narcotic strength of the quieter Post Metal stretches of the album and the rougher parts seamlessly ebb and flow to their harrowing cosmic end, the record truly feels great.
As I am writing this review, Forlesen‘s latest still continues to deliver little unheard details and tidbits that got lost in translation before. It is a truly enigmatic piece that is slow to show its colors. So, by all means, give Black Terrain the time and space it deserves so that it can expand and breathe the way it was meant to do. It will rightly and loudly demand your time and attention. And I suggest you heed that call. You won’t regret it.
|1.||There is no such thing as too much metal. Well, usually. -Ed.|