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Ambience...from the crypts below, echo into the night, as armageddon's theme song rises quickly with the tide. You look around in terror and fright, but cannot locate the source of the terrifying sound. You then look below, only to see that there are several large cracks in the floor. Inside the cracks, you can see nothing but pitch black eternity. You then gasp in horror as you see that the light in the room has been left on, meaning that the cracks in the floor are the source of both the blackness which seems to tighten it's grip around your neck with each passing minute, as well as the source of the terrifying "music" which seems to be orchestrated by Baphomet himself. Then, all sound ceases as a sole guitar takes the stage, playing a mournful, despair-filled song of hopeless eternal dark. You shed a tear, only to see Amducias himself rise from eternity with a group of demons performing what sounds to be earthly, human instruments. Then, out of the seemingly eternal blackness, comes a light from the void, the light approaches faster, faster, and then consumes your very being and existance... You awaken as your head collides with the bathroom floor. You've fallen asleep while shitting again...tisk, tisk. Now, the memories of your creepy but intriguing dream are beginning to fade into the ever widening abyss of your mind, and you soon forget about the dream and go on with your life.
This, rather cliche story, almost (almost...), describes the feelings I conjured up during my time listening to Forgotten Tomb's "Love's Burial Ground". I will not deny Forgotten Tomb what they deserve the most, that being that this album truly brings to light an emotion rarely seen in the neverending void we call "music", and that ever elusive emotion is sheer terror. Of course, the music at work here is little in comparison to many dark ambient artists, or even many black metal artists who perform more 'ambient' styled work. And, I suppose, I can applaud the members of this band for this as well. Despite utilizing an extremly dark, and at times, very disturbing atmosphere, there is little on this album which could be described as "over the top" or "campy", as many pseudo-intellectuals like to perceive music they lack the ability to truly comprehend to be. Of course, it is still very far from being truly great, although it no doubt comes close.
In this aspect, Forgotten Tomb have little to display. For one, overall technical skill is at an all-time low, and the members of the band stick to what they do best for the entire album, with little to no experimentation. Typically, one guitar plays an eerie, clean guitar melody as the other guitar chugs softly in the background, creating an unmistakeable "doom" atmosphere. As it happens, elements of black metal appear as well, with tremelo picking and blast beats appearing in several tracks (ex: "Kill Life"), as well as in the vocal style, which remains in the same flesh-starved shriek for the entire release. As well, some tracks utilize melodic, beautiful lead-work (ex: "Slaves to Negativity"), while others stick to the more basic elements of black and doom metal, fusing the the eerie, evil atmosphere and shreiked vocal style with the heavier, deeper and more hopeless chugging backing it up (ex: "House of Nostalgia"), thus not creating anything new (although still entertaining). The riff-work has it's stong points (ex: 4:53 of "Alone"), and often lifts the songs up to new heights beyond your standard black or doom metal fare. Certain tracks contain a rather clear influence from "post-metal", for instance, Agalloch, namely track three ("Alone").
However, the lower, less impressive aspects are still there. The majority of the albums plods along at the same pace with little variation throughout the tracks. Of course, every now and then, a track will pick itself up from it's slumber and proceed in a faster, more energetic form (ex: "House of Nostalgia"), although these parts are few and far between in comparison to the album as a whole, which often keeps it's pace throughout. Of course, the drumming is boring and rather featureless, with the sole truly interesting aspect about it being the pummeling bass drums it utilizes at times, and even there, there is very little I can say but, "Whoa, that's pretty loud for black metal!". On more occassions than I would like to admit on this recording, potentially good riffs are ruined by his terrible drumming ("Forgotten Tomb MMIII"). Of course, he plays on time, but what he plays is simply very stupid. It's also not that he experiments too much and tries too hard to impress (like Brann Dailor of Mastodon), it's that he doesn't do anything which could even remotly inspire anyone in any way, shape or form. The same can be said for the bassist, although that is more understandable, as neither black or doom metal are known for being very nice to bassists.
As previously stated, however, the chief element at play here is the unmistakeable atmosphere, which is a fusion of the dark and disturbing atmosphere of black metal, as well as the hopeless and misanthropic atmosphere of doom metal. At times, both genres are used separatly (ex: "Forgotten Tomb MMIII") though most of the record keeps elements from both fused together. It works wonders in tracks such as "House of Nostalgia" or "Slave to Negativity", as the black metal sections and black/doom sections, in a manner of speaking, work together to grasp an atmosphere which, while cliche, takes the "best from both worlds". Tracks such as "House of Nostalgia" and "Alone" help out in the atmosphere department, while "Forgotten Tomb MMIII" and "Slaves to Negativity" work more in the riff department. It's an interesting way to structure your songs, although with this utilized, there is a general lack of consistancy one could point out, although that isn't necessarily the case here.
The guitar tone is one of the more clear tones I've heard in black metal. It lacks the fuzziness and instead relies on raw heaviness. The tone, however, works just as well for lower, more brutal moments (ex: "House of Nostalgia") as it does for higher pitched, more eerie riffs (ex: "Kill Life"). The bass can be heard clearly enough, and drums are relativly well produced, with all the drums equally clear, with the bass drum getting a slight bias. Unfortunatly, the vocals have been raped, and sound more like static than inhuman screams as I would prefer. For whatever reason, the vocalist reminds me of the vocal style used on At the Gates's cover of "The Nightmare Continues", from the At the Gates album "With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness". It's fairly hard to articulate exactly what is going on, although you can get a general glimpse of the fact that he is doing "black metal vocals".
It appears to me that Forgotten Tomb have the atmosphere down (the most prominent aspect of this album), they just need to improve a bit in the musical department. The lack of variety or technical skill does grate on one's nerves, although there are plenty of well-written aspects of this recording to give it a relativly high replay value. Of course, I prefer the earlier material, but this is certainly a solid record which is worth anyone's time, if they enjoy black metal, and to a lesser extent, doom metal.
Highlight track(s): "Alone", "House of Nostalgia", "Forgotten Tomb MMIII".