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Forbidden are one of many of the vastly underrated and somewhat under-appreciated members of the thrash metal movement, a fact that saddens me as a fan of the band. Forbidden were among the best bands of their day, being both skilled but also catchy and heavy at the same time. The band would change sounds throughout each album, starting with straight up thrash speed on Forbidden Evil to technical thrash metal on Twisted into Form to progressive post thrash on Distortion and finally leading up to their final album, Green.
Green is both Forbidden's most successful and most misleading album. Anyone who listens to Green the first time is either going to love it and check out Forbidden's amazing back catalog or write the band off as another fake thrash metal band among all the others. The truth is though that this is actually, probably one of the few good albums of a dreaded genre by most metalheads, post thrash or "thrash/groove" metal. Taking away the complexities of Distortion and amping up the speed of the album once again, Forbidden's last album is one of the most underrated albums ever and is a great piece of music from a genre that largely derided by msot.
Really the most "groove" thing this album gets is the guitars. By no means does Forbidden trudge into Pantera territory completely with the music on Green. The riffs are Pantera-ish in terms of the chords used in most of them but even they are different. First of all, Forbidden has never skilled playing for the sake of a catchy groove and while Forbidden's (then) competent guitar duo of Craig Lociero and Tim Calvert take a rather laid back role (by Forbidden standards) on this album, they are way ahead of most their contemporaries in terms of skill. While tonally and progressionally these riffs aren't that complex, rhythmically they are above average, especially when compared to bands like Pantera and Machine Head at this time. Not to mention that the band plays at a faster pace then both of those bands did on most of the songs on Green. And Forbidden just blows both Pantera and Machine Head clear away in the lead guitar department, with Craig and Tim playing as good as they ever have on each and every solo. Why the hell aren't these guys getting as much acclaim as Dimebag? Oh well, guess Pantera beat them to the riff that ended up being the makeup of their song Walk.
Drumming is hardly groove metal style, with Steve Jacobs providing to be a nice time piece. Providing more then just holding the time and getting into a rhythm, Jacobs has a lot of wicked bouts of double bass bursts and some great fills on songs like Phat, the title track, Focus, and others. Over The Middle contains some signature thrash beats and Kanaworms contains a beat that can feels like it can be danced to! Utterly sick. I love the way that he plays on Green, simply because unlike one of the most overrated drummers ever (Vinnie Paul), Steve actually contributes to this bands sound in more ways then a drummer needs to and it helps a lot. He went above and beyond what needs to be done here and it overall sounds just plain sick. I have to pride him on this.
I also have to give Russ Anderson two thumbs up for his performance on this album. While Russ was in the higher pitched range of thrash singers and you would think that his voice would sound awkward in a "groove" setting, this is entirely not the case. Forbidden's vocalist voice adapts marevelously to the setting that he's been put in musically, and Russ manages to pull off what I think Rob Flynn and Phil Anselmo have hardly been able to pull off with Pantera and Machine Head. That is that Russ actually sounds legitimately angry and not like just some whiny teenager. And remarkably he seems to pull this off with the slight addition of a growl to his voice. And not to mention the facts that the vocal patterns are very catchy and make me want to sing along is great. I've never heard a chorus sound more pissed off then in the song Phat, and that's an achievement in it's own right largely due to Russ Anderson and his vocal abilities.
Forbidden has always had great lyrics, but I have to say that Green has some of the best lyrics I've ever heard. These lyrics are dark and gritty, usually touching on the topic of how society and political issues. Kanaworms is probably the best example of this, and has some of the best lyrics on the album. Phat is about political oppression, while Turns to Rage is about disliking of the government at the time. Really every song follows this general theme to an extent except for one. That song is Over the Middle. Okay this song is purely outrageous in what it is about, and definitely gets my award for one of the weirder songwriting topics ever. Some bands can write about some wacky stuff, but only Forbidden has claimed the righteous title of successfully writing lyrics about a football game. That's right, they wrote a song with lyrics about a football game. Now you think that means you should immediately write this song off as corny think again, because the lyrics are just as gritty and violent sounding as any of the other songs on Green, and the distorted vocals especially help the song along (not to mention the censors using John Madden and Chris Collinsworth sound bites are utterly hilarious).
I have to like the production of Green as well. While the guitars are rather overpowering and the bass is difficult to hear but on a few select parts throughout the album, it still sounds good. The drum tone sounds great, especially with the cymbals and tom drums though the snare doesn't have a lot of definition to it and the bass drums have this roundish kind of clicky sound but that's okay. The vocals get a good treatment for the style of the album, highlighting the grit and making things sound utterly violent, brutal, and rather depressing. The guitars have a rather typical groovish tone to them but that hardly diminishes the overall value of the album's sound thanks to the production.
The only negative thing I think about in Green is that the guitars can sound repetitive. Often they do play the same chords in just a different pattern at a different speed but I can't chide them completely for this. The riffs they make are catchy and don't necessarily have anything bad about them, but I do have to say that it can get slightly exasperating and leave me wondering where the Forbidden on "Twisted into Form" and "Distortion" went. But otherwise I give this album a good overall rating, because lets face it at the end of the day, Green is good.