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Over the past years, depressive black metal has been, perhaps, the sub-genre inside the black metal world which has given us more bands, and though the purists had not used this irritating term called “hipster” as they use with post-black metal bands, in the end it's more or less the same. We have dozens of bands that shamelessly copy between themselves and show an enormous lack of inspiration. Fortunately, as it has happened in other genres, some great bands have raised between these waves of mediocrity, being the Italians Forgotten Tomb, perhaps the best one. While most of the bands try to emulate the atmosphere of desperation and hopeless of albums like Filosofem (as you all know recorded by Burzum), others have been influenced by more dynamic bands like Katatonia or Dolorian. Forgotten Tomb is clearly in this second tendency that has permitted this band to release albums with a distinctive and excellent taste for guitar melodies and varied songs. I have always considered their second album, Springtime Depression, as the unbeatable and unquestionable epitome of the genre; no other album can evoke this overwhelming sense of hopelessness and despair, being a prolonged scream of agony and death. But today I have decided to review another album of these geniuses. The work is called Negative Megalomania, an album that shows us a different approach in the career of these Italians.
Negative Megalomania clearly differs from the previous works in a few aspects. Firstly, if you compare this work to their previously mentioned masterpiece, you will see that it’s not so intensively depressing, though the feeling of sadness is still there. Other differences to remark on is the partial departure from the traditional mid-tempo black metal. Ok, they still are a bm band, but the doom-ish side of the band has taken the lead on this occasion and the guitar melodies are more oriented to this style. And finally, the vocals. Not the raspy vocals themselves that more or less continue to sound in the same (though they are less raspy than in their early years), but the remarkable use of clean vocals that has convinced some fans and profoundly annoyed other ones; in this case I am part of the first group. The album commences with the most traditional FT song of the cd, A Dish Best Served Cold, and as is usual in this band, high-pitched screams are perfectly combined with some great melodies, a trademark in FT. The tempo varies between the typical mid-pace and the surprising outburst of speedy fury. This composition is clearly a future classic in the band’s set list. With the second track, No Rehab begins the most controversial part of the album with highly criticized lyrics and some new influences in the band's sound with its gentle start that could contain some influences of American southern rock. Moreover, the song features some clean vocals that will take prominence throughout the entire album, though the screams are more often used. As I have mentioned before, one of the main characteristics of this album is that the band is absolutely focused on getting the best melodies and introducing them massively, and believe me the work here is extraordinary. Negative megalomania, the third song, is a perfect example mainly in its second half, but the initial part is awesome as well with the best clean vocals of the album perfectly combined with the usual extreme voices, but the best is yet to come. After a powerful solo and a slow-paced section, it begins an amazingly beautiful section of guitar melodies which lasts until almost the end. No more words are needed. Just listen to it and you will feel the ecstasy. For the fourth song, The Scapegoat, we have another calm start that has a crescendo as the vocals and instruments gain strength and rawness, but then another excellent melody rivals in prominence with the clean vocals that I really like. The most powerful and slow parts are combined aptly through the rest of the composition. The album ends amazingly well with Blood and Concrete. This, beside the first song, is the composition that convinces more fans of FT’s old sound. The first part that is raw and fast, at least more than the rest of the album, culminates in a very fast section, and just when you think that all the song will be the same, there is an abrupt break in the pace when some excellent melodies appear and the songs slows its tempo a little bit. This last section is simply beautiful and clearly shows the great work done by the band in this aspect. What a wonderful ending!.
In conclusion, Negative Megalomania can be considered an excellent piece of work, not reaching the level of extreme darkness and depression of Springtime Depression, but it demonstrates how FT is capable of building a monument of sensational guitar melodies, perfectly combined vocals, and this beautiful (and painful) sense of despair. A must have.
Never being ones to decide for themselves what their sound should be, Forgotten Tomb have now cheerfully hopped onto the black metal/depressive rock bandwagon spearheaded by Swedish twinks Lifelover. Having previously gone through shades of typical suicidal black metal and black/doom, it's good to see that Forgotten Tomb is constantly willing to update its style as long as it's what the metal scene wants them to do.
Most of my bitterness towards Forgotten Tomb stems from the fact that I'm very unsure as to whether they're supposed to be a parody of the suicidal black metal scene or if they're completely serious about what they're doing. If it's the former, the joke's not funny and they could have stopped at 'Songs To Leave' because it's not getting any funnier, and my balls ache from the very idea that these guys are being genuine so I'm going to hope that's not the case. Forgotten Tomb has never been a good band, per se; they've managed to stumble their way into a handful of good songs but have never been able to create an album that's unified by any sort of consistency in quality. This hasn't changed at all on 'Negative Megalomania'; the odd numbered tracks are more or less decent, while the even ones are migraine-inducingly terrible. I mean, I'm talking inexcusably shitty. 'Scapegoat' not only shouldn't have been recorded, the very idea for the song shouldn't have even been thought up it's so bad.
The good: Forgotten Tomb is reasonably able to write songs in the form of whatever flavor of the year they're adopting for a particular album. They're good when they try to be, and there's a few fairly bright spots on this album. Opener 'A Dish Best Served Cold', despite its awful title, is a pretty solid little blackened rock number with its repeated lead guitar theme, and the title track has a good closing section where its guitars get super layered and beautifully chaotic. It's only isolated sections that seem to get genuinely good and interesting though, and the rest of even the better songs is just a sort of plod to nowhere that can be listenable at best and mediocre at worst. It doesn't even have the dignity to be really horrible. It's just minute after crawling minute of dissonant arpeggios and bland moaning or shrieking vocals.
It seems that at this point in their career, the band is unable to write actual songs anymore and just arbitrarily strings riffs together. The opening track, even as one of the better ones, is a perfect example of this. It opens with a midtempo rock passage for a few minutes before abruptly dropping out with a few seconds' silence and going into a clean guitar section with no relation to the previous one. Then there's another rock section and a completely arbitrary blast section... all for what? To prove they can play actual black metal? The music has no internal point of reference or center, so you have five arbitrary tracks that are even arbitrary within themselves, so what's the point of listening to it? It's just a collection of pseudo-melodic noises that are occasionally configured in a (probably accidentally) compelling way.
The real thing that makes me not want to listen to it, though, is just that it feels incredibly shallow and lame. All the songs sound like they took two hours to write and all of it sounds like material you've heard somewhere before, so steeped in convention as this band is. There's little that's abjectly wrong with this music, but it still has very little worth and mostly feels like an elaborate, vaguely depressing way to waste time than it does a worthwhile album.
Every single effort by Forgotten Tomb features a distinctive approach to depression. Musically, the first EP doesn’t count very much because the tracks were old and quite fast; the debut album (still their best in my opinion) features extremely sad lead guitars lines to fill the air with a suicidal feeling, while “Springtime Depression” was more focused on the arpeggios work to give that atmosphere. With the following “Love’s Burial Ground” their black metal has become less depressive and darker if we want. Their attention was moved to recreate a sense of darkness and less of depression, except in two, great cases: “Alone” song and “House of Nostalgia”, where we can find massive dark/doom influences with always an eye to old Katatonia.
By the way, the changes were pretty evident and since Forgotten Tomb is a band that always dared to innovations, here we go again with a new conception of dark black metal, this Negative Megalomania. Love’s Burial Ground wasn’t great me and even if the strength and will of this band is remarkable when it comes on innovations, we must also say that they were never able to recreate such incredibly depressive atmospheres of the past albums. This album is a step beyond in change and we can find also clean vocals. In a recent interview I made to Herr Morbid he told me that it was a natural thing because nowadays he barely listens to black metal and some influences were automatically absorbed to create something new.
The first song, “A Dish Best Served Cold” features some almost black ’n’ roll riffs by the faster parts but the doom breaks are very good again. I think this song features what lacked in the previous album. It’s a way between the first two albums even if we can find even palm muting riffs by the rhythmic lines, the lead lines are really good and again morbid and depressive. The vocals are always raspy and easily recognizable among several screamers. The atmosphere is also pitch black during the clean arpeggio on the central part and during the faster restarts immediately after. The fast riffs are cold as ice, lifeless and grey…like an existence that slowly finishes. The parts are easily recognizable and far more convincing than in the recent past.
Another thing that I always loved by this band is the production and now I tell you why. When most of the bands on this genre use fuzzy production with reverbs by the vocals, Forgotten Tomb was able to transmit even darker feelings with an always clean one. The sounds are sharp like razors cutting the flesh of a tormented body. The first part of the arpeggio to “No Rehab (The Final Solution)” is good and also the doom breaks. The almost black ‘n’ roll style is mixed perfectly with hyper depressive lead lines and finally we can find the first clean vocals that are pretty good. For those who are not used to listen something like this from this band could be quite shocking but frankly I like them.
The clean choruses in the title track are not bad but I think they are too melodic and “epic” for Forgotten Tomb. The rest of the track is not astounding but certainly good because the lead guitars lines are always dark and the heavy break at 5:00 is filled with solos too! The depressive work by the guitars is reminiscent of the first album and this is a thing that drives me crazy. “The Scapegoat” is the song that features the biggest quantity of clean vocals and it doesn’t convince me a lot. Once again is far better with the sad, desolate and “epic” guitars lines and the canonical screams. Maybe it’s because I must get used to the clean vocals, but the screams are always better to me.
The last “Blood and Concrete” is incredibly massive, monolithic in its burden of unmatched black heaviness. Once again, the atmospheres are pitching black and you can hear the difference between this one and “The Scapegoat” very well. Even the fast parts are truly dark and cold and the best can be found again in its slow progression with dark lines, for sure. Everything is more canonical on this song and again is a good way between the first two albums.
All things considered, in this new album I’ve found more homogeneous songs than on the previous one. Love’s Burial Ground featured two immense tracks, while the rest was quite weak in my opinion. Here we have more ideas and all the songs are on the same good level. Surely, the stand out parts can be found in “A Dish Best Served Cold”, the title track and the last song. If you don’t mind some innovations for the vocals and some less black metal oriented riffs, you’ll like it.
The filed of Black Doom is a vast and mostly unexplored territory with only a few contenders spread across the globe. Most of which are Teutonic or in places where there is/was some sort of a Black Metal scene. Forgotten Tomb break that mold however by coming from the land of epic dinner theater Metal bands such as Rhapsody.
The production is pretty better than you would expect after viewing the "Grim & Necro" album cover. The guitars are very Black but played at a Doom pace. There is a subtle groove to them. There are some very good leads and even a solo on the title track. While not the busiest of axmen, they certainly get the job done going for the more traditional lead/rhythm rolls. The two in tandem create a very dreary and depressing mood. There is also a decent amount of palm muting thrown in.
The bass follows the rhythm guitar for about half of the album. Thankfully he doesn't follow it constantly. The drums are pretty good, but don't do anything too amazing. The vocals are a mix between a more traditional Black rasp and some ok clean vocals. The lyrics are venomous and clever, with their only fault being more of a grasp on English in general.
This albums title track is possibly one of the best songs ever written from a musical standpoint. It viciously pokes fun at scenesters and posers and is generally a good song. The entire album is very dark and bleak with very bitter and angry atmosphere.
The songs range from very slow to more straight forward Black Metal (towards the end of one song). The quality of music is surprisingly high as well. This is a very good release and recommended to all who hunger for original and different Metal.
To start, I heard no so pleasant words about this newest edition to Forgotten Tomb's discography. Being that I refused to hear these words without knowing for myself, I immediately bought the album. First bad sign... found it in the used section (isn't this a new release...?). Judgement aside, I listen.
The first five minutes pass and I have no idea what the hell the aforementioned bearer of bad news was talking about. Sure its a bit 'Black and Roll'ish but so were parts of Love's Burial Ground and I still love that album. Well alright, this is pretty good. Track 2... WTF!
Let me just say, I encourage progression of bands because it is meaningless to cough up the same crap year after year, regardless of whether the style is brilliant. But Forgotten Tomb traveled in the wrong direction. This is the common death of the celebrated legacy of many bands who try to do clean vocals after nearly a decade of blood curtling blackened screams (and being extremely successful at the latter). And no, it isn't a guest singer or the drummer giving vocals a shot, its Herr Morbid himself sounding like he is sitting in for Megadeath... Its horrendous!
Back to it... though I cant help wince at the sound of these clean vocals. The drums are well done as always, the typical slow groovy beats that fit so well with Razor's usual guiar riffs. Though I wanted to get some more of that blast beat in there to just take the song over the edge.
Guitars... ugh, did Ozzfest seriously make its way through Italy? Did Zakk Wyld forget to get back on the bus and end up brainwashing Morbid and Razor? Fuck! I really want to like this album. Basically it breaks down to 1 minute of clean vocals and generic chuga chuga riffing... and did I just hear Herr Morbid shout "guitar" just before Razor broke out into a guitar solo? Damn it! Then another minute of some really good everything and Im back in mournful bliss. The styles are night and day, back and forth, and they should have never been mixed up. And I hate to bash on that which is attempting to progress but I just cant let this slide.
More than several attempts are made to 'break the chains' of Forgotten Tomb's traditional take on song writing. Condemn me to said metaphorical hell if you must but I dare say two words... Sell out. It seems the band wants more with its musical career than to be famed by the black underground. I feel abandoned and can hear them shouting "European air waves, North American tour here we come." But they did give me a taste of what they are still capable of. The last track abandons all 'singing' and most other wierd unfortunate suprises and is nothing but exactly what I'm sure the rest of Forgotten Tomb fans wanted to hear after too long a wait. You'll even get a blast beat on drums (along with some of the best Forgotten Tomb ever).
Was i dissapointed because I was looking for something too specific and didnt get it...? I dont think so. I jus't dont want to hear excerpts of The Scorpions and Zakk Wyld in my music... ever!
My advise to you who are like me and want something awesome out of this album... If you are willing to buy a CD for one, maybe two good songs, buy it. If you want a great album from start to finish, this is not for you.
Yes there are highlights:
Track 5 is fucking awesome!
Forgotten Tomb are a well establish Black Metal band from Piacenze in Italy. Since 1999 the four piece band have been playing a style of Black Metal to make the musical masses envious and the fans delirious with joy, or distraught with depression which would be far more apt.
With "Negative Megalomania" comes Forgotten Tomb's forth album and in my opinion, their greatest achievement to date. Not only does it show a huge amount of musical progression and in the right direction, but it also signifies their coming of age as musicians. This album is practically perfect and fabulously flawless. I'm going to make a bold prediction and state that this will be one of the best albums this year, only nine days into 2007. If that doesn't give the reader an indication at how good this is, nothing will.
As previously stated, Forgotten Tomb have made a notable progression musically. They're still as melancholic and melodic as before, but with a huge difference and that difference comes in the form of the vocals. I've heard a lot of talk about the vocals recently and they've received mixed reactions to say the least, but i for one am glad of the change in style. We're still left with the old Black Metal wails reminiscent of the old Forgotten Tomb, but we're now invited to listen to the new clean vocals that they had audaciously decided upon adding. They add a whole new dimension to Forgotten Tomb's music, a an addition i like ... A LOT!
The songs are very well balanced and contain the right amount of emotion, thus making this not over-the-top in its approach. The production is crystal clear making it easy to distinguish between all the instruments meaning they all play a significant role in making the music what it is. The songs are generally very long, but they're not a struggle to get through. In actual fact, you'll find that time really does fly after you listen to this recording. The songs are thoroughly enjoyable, even if Forgotten Tomb are considered to be a "Depressive" or "Suicidal" act. Within the music you can very much feel that. It's highly emotive, i believe the clean vocals make the music more emotive than before and add a new dimension to the mood of the music. The guitars are steady and build the melody fantastically. The drums are consistent and affective. The speed of the music is important in creating it's desired affect. Ranging from mid-paced to fast-paced. As touched on before, the music can often be quite "Depressing", though quite uplifting at stages.
What strikes me about this recent album is, that its probably accessible to many people who may like a whole different range of genres, not including Black Metal. All in all this is a modern masterpiece and a future classic.
Highlights include ... Well, all of it.