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So... why did this need to happen? Yeah, I know, art, subjective, eye of the beholder, everything you've come to know by heart, but seriously: why? If a mediocre black metal band is going to decide seemingly out of the blue to release a mediocre acoustic rock album, I feel that the band in question should be prepared to defend their decision. It's not as though anyone was exactly clamoring for this, and the crossover between fans of Frostmoon Eclipse's black metal work (few) and acoustic rock work (none) is basically nonexistent. Why not release it under a different name? Of course, all these rhetorical questions necessitate one taking "Dead and Forever Gone" seriously, which is a completely ridiculous, willfully ignorant proposition at best. This is a case where the content perfectly matches the cover: this album really is nothing more than wimpy, acoustic alt rock. Not an experimental reinterpretation of black metal via acoustic guitar, not a blending of stylistic elements- not even a particularly GOOD acoustic rock album. It's as dumb and unnecessary as it looks at first glance and it never really gets better.
I'll never understand why extreme metal bands taking sudden, impromptu lurches towards more mainstream styles of music is so often viewed as daring and artistic. Didn't we start listening to black and death metal to get away from this sort of thing? Do a large portion of you really just want to listen to boring rock music instead of metal? It's not as though Frostmoon Eclipse's stylistic name is exactly branded on the album- there's no indication of the band's black metal pedigree, no influence from black metal (be it in melodies or song structure) on these songs- it's just an acoustic rock album. Without the Frostmoon Eclipse logo branded on the cover, this would be totally ignored by the metal scene and probably the alt rock scene as well. Do people think that the fact that a black metal band's making this music fundamentally changes its nature? Of course not- throw this on the radio next to whatever other flavor of the week alt rock band is popular and you wouldn't notice any difference. You wouldn't tolerate this from an unknown alt rock band, so why would you tolerate it from a semi-known black metal band? Does that actually make it better for you?
I guess you could see this as Frostmoon Eclipse's attempt to legitimize the totally grotesque amount of acoustic guitars used in their black metal- "Look, guys, we really appreciate the dulcet tones of the acoustic guitar!" That's all well and good, but I'm not particularly interested in acoustic guitar in my black metal, and especially not in alt rock as effete, bland, and inoffensive as this. Drums, acoustic strings, and clean vocals make up this little jaunt into tedium, proving neatly why black metal and alt rock don't mix: people who do one typically suck at the other. Frostmoon Eclipse's brand of acoustic rock is just as bland as anything else out there: apart from some vague folk influences in some of the melodic structures, this is by-the-book acoustic rock, really not too far from Dave Matthews Band or other, similar tripe. It sounds "nice"- because all these chord structures have been firmly established in the past to sound nice. There's not a hint of creativity or artistic drive on this, and yet I can't call it a sellout album because it's not as though the band even tried to push this on the alt rock scene. No, it's just black metallers listening to this, and I'll never be able to understand it.
The compositions might sound deceptively lush the first time you listen to it, owing to the ostentatious fingerpicked guitar style and busier-than-usual drumming, but then you pick up on the fact that the melodic shifts are entirely predictable and everything falls into the "four of this, eight of that" style of songwriting that- funny enough- most bedroom black metal bands suffer from. The result is completely motionless, dreary alt rock that's never energetic enough to create actual emotion in the listener. In lieu of genuine emotion: a sort of stock moodiness, where chord structures designed to elicit a vague feeling of nostalgia or sorrow are used instead of more interesting, ambitious arrangements. What would have been inoffensive, listenable alt rock, though, is driven into fully obnoxious territory by the vocal performance. Weak, timid, and hilariously accented, the combination of awful lyrics and terrible delivery thereof makes for music where one longs for the instrumental sections simply because they're merely tedious rather than actively offensive.
I'm not going to say a black metal band couldn't make a decent acoustic rock album. What I will say, though, is that such an exercise is completely pointless.
I am not familiar with any other Frostmoon Eclipse, instead I found this album when looking for acoustic albums by metal bands. While Dead and Forever Gone is a good album, it feels like a band who doesn't like acoustic music trying to make acoustic music. It's all very similar and monotonous, and feels more like a collage of other artists than a truly original work. Don't get me wrong, Dead and Forever Gone is very good, moving, and well made music, it's just a little bit overdone, and struggles to maintain interest for a full 40 minutes.
For this release Frostmoon Eclipse have decided to release some very depressive acoustic music, with a goal to make music that is pure depression. To do this, they've drawn from folkier music like Ulver's Kveldssanger, neo-folk music such as Agalloch and Tenhi, the more gloomy acoustic sections of Opeth, even early Katatonia appears to be an influence, just acoustic. Overall, it's all very well done, it's usually quite a downer as hoped by the group, and it's got the capability to be a varied enough listen for the duration. But unfortunately, it's all played at one tempo, the music is a little to close to the various templates of the influences, and the vocals are too quiet and become indistinguishable leading to the various differences in the approach of each song soon becoming irrelevant.
The music is quite depressive, very beautiful and melodic but certainly not made to put a smile on your face. Unlike a lot of albums using acoustics, the drumming and bass are quite heavily used but tastefully so. And the vocals are delivered in a very quite, half whispered drawl, it's quite a bleak sound. However the album, much like Kveldssanger of Ulver, occasionally gets a little too pretty, and loses its desolate atmosphere for a moment, but as a whole this manages to be a far more crushing experience than many of their ilk. So the music played isn’t particularly original, but thematically these guys have got their own thing happening. Unlike the music played, the lyrics are never pretty or anything other than dark the whole time, and are usually very good. Occasionally you'll get a few lines which are just trying far too hard to be cold, but tracks like the opener, "What Could Have Been" easily make up for it.
Dead and Forever Gone suffers from another problem that a lot of albums of the style have, all of the songs don't have much going on in them. Most song consists of 3 or 4 different melodies, it's not fast music, so that's to be expected somewhat, but they just don't go anywhere. The songs only run for 2-3 minutes, and it really cuts these songs short, they don't have time to grow and develop any real character of their own, other than overall feeling of cheerlessness that permeates this whole album. The fact that most of this album is played at a very consistent tempo makes this much worse, because you start to not realise when one song ends and another begins. The lack of distinctive vocals also amplifies this problem, which keeps compounding itself for the 41 minutes this album lasts.
With all that said Frostmoon Eclipse has done a nice job of writing quality sad music, and the enjoyment well and truly outweighs the negative side of the album. It's certainly one of the better ones of these "black metal band shows off their acoustic side" albums that are all the rage, if a little lacking in musical character and originality.
As metalheads might have learned through this site, or other ways, this album is completely different to the usual Frostmoon Eclipse's releases. In all honesty it is a welcome change, I really find dull and mediocre their whole Black Metal Catalog. On to the review....
First of all, this is a completely acoustic rock album. Yes, acoustic drums, guitar, bass....some whispered vocals and some smooth vocals which seems a lot like Opeth's Damnation. I really wanna do a track by track review, because i've mostly read in interviews that this is like Ulver's Kveldssanger, which is based on something, but not entirely accurate.....
1. What Could Have Been - We open with the longest track of the album, this track does sound a bit production wise, to Ulver's aforementioned album. From that we get a mid paced tempo acoustic, not folky, but more into the depressive side song. Notably, the album feels very organic, in a stripped down way. This is such a long song, we even get a solo, obviously acoustic, and sort of short, but its there...lyric wise, i guess the whole album is some sort of painful trip into sadness. This is a good song, but in all honesty, drags a bit too much, it is very calmed, like the whole album so i guess that helps.
2. Long Gone - Notice how the starting riff, if it was played with an electric guitar will be perfectly fitted of the Katatonia sound, and the song basically drags into this riff, which sounds like if Katatonia was playing acoustic rock, now im wondering how the fuck will that sound...but oh well, i guess this is the closest thing for now...the building riff doesn't sound that bad, the bass kinda dominates it, and then it hitted me, the whole album is moving towards a sort of depressive landscape feeling...im liking it like crazy, especially considering its a cloudy day.
3. Last Will - The first instrumental, this is a complete nod to Elohim Meth, from Katatonia, from the Dance Of December Souls Album, sounds exactly like it. I really enjoyed it, since both of them put me in this dreamy mood.
4. Devilish And Mournful - I adore this song, its sort of evil, sort of sad. The main riff is very, dont know, sounds Opethish, its kinda cool...the chorus, hahaha with the whole yeaahhhh, in some whispered vocals, its kinda creepy...
5. A Moment Long a Lifetime - This song starts more upbeat, riffwise, drumming wise. Im not saying its a happy song, just more upbeat of a start. The vocals sound more wailing and full of anguish on this song. The drumming is a bit tad more complicated than on other songs, but still nothing spectacular, the show is the acoustic guitar, period.
6. A Warm Yesterday - a very sad intro, greets us, by this point im totally absorbed into the music. This riff sounds very melancholic, i guess the band wasnt lying when they said, they had great music composed for non black metal album. This is mostly instrumental, which is great!!!
7. With Your Emptiness - starting riff once again, utterly brilliant. This song is pretty simple, with a basic verse/chorus/verse...great great vocals.
8. Neon Lights - This is the second and last instrumental, it if worth mentioning the album is mostly instrumental anyways. I think its smart from them, the music really speaks a lot by itself. This one has to be heard to be believed, pure but pure creativity, its like you are hearing your neighbor playing some acoustic guitar, and then adding some drums in your head..lol
9. Joyless and Soulless - I would admit it, the album drags on a bit and by this point, im either too dreamy to continue paying attention, or im not in the mood for this and i'm completely bored. This is the blandest song on the album, and i guess that doesn't help considering the point on which it hits. Pretty forgeatable, i guess filler will be the word?
10. Once Was Gold - the last three songs of the album, including this one are the best of the whole bunch. This song is basically, like A Warm Yesterday, structure wise, so we dont get a chorus/verse/chorus thing we simply get a great composition, very good, much better than the beginning of the album.
11. Ten Thousand Miles Ahead - This song rules, it reeks in loneliness, im very impressed by the fact this song is here, like so late in the album...even if its a verse/chorus song, it is sadness that can only be heard to be believe...superb
12. It Heals, It Hurts - An acoustic riff and clean singing stars this one off, very melancholic, but when the drumming comes in, i kinda notice, the drumming on this song, is very good...once it starts off anyways, it is very creative, even has some drum rolls, this is easily the best song on the album, because we get another genuinely great riff, and when we add the consistent drumming, and we are in for a treat.
In conclusion, this album could be better, but seeing that the band has never putted out an acoustic album, this is something i think will be some sort of temporary status, therefore, making this a jewel that most of the old fans of the band will puke on....on the other hand people with a bit tad of an open mind, might really enjoy this as i have...could be better, but certainly not that terrible, and its quite enjoyable....recommended for open minded.