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Forsaken, a band from Malta, have an interesting and quite different take on religious themes and a focus on theological entities rather than merely religious imagery, which sets their doom metal record apart from most others. In order to do this, they generally use a slightly vague doom metal approach resembling in some ways Solitude Aeternus or Candlemass, although quite far from what might be associated with the 'epic' subgenre. They are generally more focused on abstract, and perhaps inaccessible concepts touched upon with appropriate lyrics, with some fanfare to give these dramatic direction. This can at times risk fanfare around concepts like 'Thanatos,' slightly foreign to the tradition the songs draw on, which can lead to aesthetic vagueness and the lack of a clear message. Nonetheless, their inaccessibility of a certain kind is effective in a record which declaims those who 'drink the wine of Babylon,' and does well to convey that.
While it is generally a slightly gaudily ornamented presentation of something close to orthodoxy, accompanied with occasional forays into slightly undeveloped themes, it does occasionally set itself apart from this. It takes an approach to Christianity somewhat akin to Psychotic Waltz's suggestions of the 'gates above' being 'closed to everyone' in 'Strange,' with a focus on negative or punitive aspects of the religion, the suffering caused, and an acceptance of this. Nonetheless, it does take an approach which is still based on portrayal of imagery rather than assertions, and hence has certain similarities with David Gascoyne's 'Miserere.' The portrayals of deified figures often focuses on darkness and punishment, and hence this is the direction the record tries to go in. Nonetheless, orthodoxy is still allowed to fill in most of the gaps left by merely insinuating or touching on religious themes, which means that it isn't able to develop this fully into a separate and coherent theme behind the record. In a sense, it relies on an existent belief system to drape this in shades of an aesthetic.
The focus on more obscure aspects of things, for instance the 'voyaging aeon, unknown and unseen,' of the lyrics, suits the record quite well. Generally, the instruments tend to be quite steady, and make little attempt to stand out most of the time, instead keeping a slightly down-beat tone to the music appropriate to the album. Nonetheless, it usually doesn't seem to be able to portray darkness or the dreariness of the world as notably s it often aims to, which limits songs like 'Daylight Dies.' Generally, the lyrics of songs tend towards various ways of expressing superlatives in one direction or another, or means of creating a sense of cosmic drama, and hence can often come to revolve around a single theme which grounds this. For instance, 'Daylight Dies' centers around a sense of a world that has lost its shine, an 'eternal night' where 'daylight dies,' and in this sense you can sense a certain limitation in the instrumentation in portraying such a thing, keeping in a way to genre conventions at the expense of the atmosphere it attempts to convey. In attempting to be uplifting and exciting, it in a way isn't quite able to deal with the fairly serious themes and aesthetic it attempts.
While it isn't quite atmospheric, and hence is in a similar doom metal tradition to Candlemass, although in a way simplified, nonetheless it does generally try to keep a consistent 'feel' to each song, or have the instrumentation take the themes or songs in a certain, slightly down-beat as said, direction. This allows for some highly effective softer, 'interlude' sections, like 'The Celestial Alchemist,' where they are able to go onto a softer wavelength while still maintaining their effect. While vague in many ways, its simplicity, along with the, 'The winds of perdition extol your name, thine eternal Father,' section, are highly effective. In some ways it resembles a softer Virgin Steele song, albeit not a ballad, from the 'House of Atreus' album, but it is otherwise quite distinct. The opening 'Dominaeon,' by contrast, is more up-beat doom metal, with a generally straightforward theme of stressing God's dominion in some manner, opposing this 'dominion of light' to 'epistemes of doubt.' The ending recapitulates this theme with 'Resurgam,' focusing on the hope of redemption symbolised by God's return. It slows down significantly to stress this theme, and generally the album tries to keep to a faster pace when recounting things it condemns, or the 'world,' and slows down when dealing with salvation and divine hopes. A similar trend is seen in 'Wretched of the Earth.'
Although they don't quite go in as off-beat a direction as bands like Greece's Deceptor, and generally try to stick to genre conventions, nonetheless the different emphases of their music mean that it works in a way quite distinct from most other doom metal albums. While it occasionally attempts to go in a more aggressive direction, this is generally held back. Compared to for, instance, Trouble, they take a slightly less organised, but nonetheless still worthwhile direction, which is slightly unique and abstract as a take on religious themes. While it holds to a vaguely 'gnostic'-inspired position, that is left often unspecified, As an album, it is a fairly creative approach to the doom genre: it relies on taking generic themes and slightly vague images, and then mediating this with the music's tone to give it a specific direction. As such, it is a release of some interest for those who want their doom metal with a slight difference, or people with an interest in bands like Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus. They are perhaps closer to this than to things like Dantesco or DoomSword, but nonetheless pull off their style well, and shouldn't be too off-putting to fans of such bands, so long as they aren't expecting something in a similar vein.
Doom metal from Malta, it’s not everyday you read or hear something like that! This band has been going on and been active since 1990, so they’re not really a new band. This album, “Dominaeon” was only their third release though during all these years, and is their best among their three first albums I’d say.
What is delivered on here is quite hauling riffs in the vein of Black Sabbath and of course Candlemass, who probably are their biggest influences. Threwn in between here and there are some calmer, shorter/some longer songs that feels like intros. The album begins with “The Abscondant God”. Then we have the bassdriven “Paradigm of Chaos”, the big epic “The Celestial Alchemist” and instrumental “Blood of the Son”. I feel that these tunes doesn’t fill any purpose on the album, it would’ve been enough with maybe two, but five feels a bit overkill. This sadly lowers the album’s score a bit, even if “The Celestial Alchemist” is a good one. However, the actual songs on here are some cool ones, though. Doom metal on a high level reaches in especially “Dominaeon” with it’s swinging tempo and neat chorus, “Daylight Dies” with it’s awesome interlude and solo, the slow and sinister “Obsidian Dreams”, heavy crusher “Wretched of the Earth” and the long ending song “Resurgasm” which varies much with it’s tempo changes, but may be a bit too long.
The production of the album feels a bit low-budget, most notably in the drum sound, but the raw and heavy guitar sound + the audible bass sound lifts up the experience. Vocalist Leo Stivala also lies perfectly in the mix with his strong vocals, though he feels a bit limited when it comes to higher notes, like the ending screams in “Wretched of the Earth”. But Leo makes a great performance in general. The rest of the band is doing their thing, no one is flying on pink clouds and trying to overdoing things, just solid performances with great feeling.
“Dominaeon” is a good album, that could have been better with a few more “real” songs as I’d like to call it. It’s a bit inconsistent because of this. Some songs are missing those cool melodies/choruses that is needed in doom metal, and is maybe a thing to work on for these guys. Forsaken still has a bit too go before they reach the higher points in the rating-system, but fact still remains though about this album that any fan of the genre should check it up.
3 killer songs: Dominaeon - Wretched of the Earth - Obsidian Dreams
Here we have a band that has been going on for ages. Producing various EPs and albums along their journey and most importantly moving towards a point of crystallization of their music with each of their work. The band has had a consistent member formation apart from some minor changes and therefore you can feel the maturity and musicianship increasing with each album.
Here is their lastest masterpiece - Dominaeon. And it's one hell of an album. Forsaken here have topped themselves creating something which is simply explainable as 'Epic'. I have to admit that I have always liked that small intro in an album because it is like a summary of what to expect. And 'The Abscondant God' delivers this feeling precisely as you immediately notice that the production couldn't be better. This is one of the most important factors of this album. Perfect production.
Next we have the title track with the initial heavy riffs synonymous with Forsaken's music. Leo Stivala has progressively improved his vocal skills and in this album he could not have done a better job because his vocals are one of the essential elements in creating that epic feeling that I mentioned earlier. I also like the ending of this song with the sound of a bell ringing as the music fades away. This ringing continues to introduce the interlude 'Paradigm of Chaos'. This leads to the song ‘Obsidian Dreams’. Heaviness is the denominator of this album and this song is a prime example. Here Leo apart from his clean vocals shows that he is capable of performing some growls and kudos to him because they add that feel of mysticism to the music. What is also particular in this song is the use of a choir which again suits the sound perfectly.
Next is the 'Celestial Alchemist'. This is the only song on the album which doesn't have those heavy riffs which are present throughout the album. Instead this track which is placed perfectly in the middle of the album projects a more relaxed and quiet mood with Leo's clean vocals and some choir in the background. 'Daylight Dies' is next and I have to personally say this is my least favorite yet I still like it which shows you the sheer beauty and power of the rest of the album. The standing fact of this song is the solo from guitarist Sean Vuckovic. I wish there would have been some more throughout the whole album as he is a very talented guitarist. To follow is the second interlude 'Blood of the Son' which again calms things down and helps you to recollect your ideas before the last 3 remaining songs.
What we have next is my favourite, that is, 'Kenosis'. The vocals introduce this song with some whispering and then the guitars come blazing in. What is fantastic about this song are the very heavy, extremely catchy riffs which will leave you headbanging even when you are asleep. Prepare some medication for your neck because you won't be able to resist this. With 'Wretched of the Earth', Forsaken continue doing what they do best...nothing more nothing less. Closing this album is 'Resurgam' which is a somewhat faster-paced that the previous songs. Yet it still retains its heaviness and it's the longest track on this album clocking over 9 minutes. Closing this song, after the music has faded, is what I assume is a baptism ritual performed in latin (something similar to what happens in Godfather II or III when Micheal Corleone is present to his nephew's baptism as his godfather).
No doom song would be complete without the bass guitarist and in this album it is no exception. Albert Bell is impeccable with his down tuned bass guitar, adding his contribution in giving a wholesome feel and complementing the intense guitar riffs. Not only that but Albert has written some fantastic lyrics dealing with religious, apocalyptic notions which will take some time to be completely understood due to the consistent use of difficult words and phrases which all adds to the epic feel. Last but not least the drummer Simeon Gatt is also great, not missing a beat and performing up to standard as nonetheless he has done even in previous albums.
Forsaken have here produced a doom masterpiece. I believe if this album would have been done by, say, Solitude Aeternus or some other famous band every doom fanatic would have known of this album yet again Forsaken have proved themselves worthy of being next to the other great bands on the Olympus of DOOM.
Best tracks: All especially: Obsidian Dream, Kenosis, Resurgam