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Album of the year for 2019. - 100%

ozzeh, October 22nd, 2019

This is the best metal album of 2019, one of the best black metal albums of all time, and it features the most tangible atmosphere of sorrow I've ever heard. My closest friend died at age 28 the day this was released. For some reason I had a sick, suicidal feeling hours before I found out. And I also listened to "Ilmestykset" three times in a row before finding out. So this album is personal beyond all other music to me.

It reminds me of Lifelover's "Dekadens" in terms of classic, must own, and listen to start-to-finish, every time. And be thoroughly moved emotionally every single time. The two share that same haunting, dark, and beautiful emotional effect. Both are amongst my favorite releases in all of music. Both albums have tragic, bleak, impending doom as their atmospheric trademark sound. And they're both unique in that they use strange, disturbing cinematic audio clips throughout their masterpieces. But Förgjord races ahead musically against even Lifelover's best album.

While raw, the production on "Ilmestykset" is a giant leap above their previous, old-school, treble infused trademark sound. Because Förgjord, like all Finnish black metal countrymates, simply do not sell out. The production is definitely not crystal clear, but it is absolutely fitting for their masterful opus. Compared to anything before this in their discography, the production here might as well be called compressed and modern. While in reality, it is still true, raw black metal, marked by the unbelievable melodies dispersed throughout the blazing riffs, and also found in the lead guitars. The guitar tone is heavy and distinctly suited for this mentally haunting album. "Ilmestykset" leaves it's mark on the listener's mind unlike anything I have ever heard in black metal. It has a disturbing effect on the senses, and it is similar to impact of a warped horror movie.

Because there is a cinematic quality found throughout this LP that evokes the unstable state of an insane asylum suicide ward. And it's contrasted by the beautiful Finnish melodies that dominate--and unite--the entire album. Because you have all of these elements clashing the senses--in constant motion--with the Finnish, Karelian melodic backbone tying it all together. But what offsets the blazing fast, incredibly raw nature of Förgjord here, are the clean vocals, periodic synths, and the beautiful acoustic guitar playing that explode into glorious black metal riffs. Both are used sparingly, and to great effect, for the entire runtime of this eerie, mentally engaging work of musical art.

This is not an easy listen at all, and in fact, it strains me mentally due to the technical song-writing, and the clashing of emotions it brings out. Due to the emotional link to my dear friend's tragic passing, and this specific album, you might say it brings out the deepest sadness and despair within me personally. But it does that anyways as a general trait of the music. For me though, it is amplified and united by the most poignant sorrow. This makes it a difficult listen when compared to other music, but it doesn't diminish my enjoyment at all. It's an album that I immerse myself in every few weeks, opposed to every few days. It is associated with the darkest times, but it brings those repressed parts of out, and that's why I love it so much.

This is 41 minutes of the most disturbing music that you will find. With lycanthropy--animalistic shapeshifting--as a constant theme. The most twisted screams and horror-inducing howls are found from the very start. But once the riffs hit, they hit hard, and are simultaneously accompanied with a vocal assault of every kind. The traditional black metal vocals of the rawest kind tie it all together, and they're often linked to beautiful soaring leads, and clean vocal choruses. In terms of tempo, it varies wildly, and sends the listener on a ride that is dark, violent, hopeless, beautiful, and out of a nightmare. The drumming is perfectly tied with the intense riffs, dynamic leads, and complex melodies. The song "Karsiko" starts with a traditional Finnish melody, only to explode into raw black metal, ending as soon as it started.

I struggled to narrow it down to any one album as being labeled "album of the year" but I have called Förgjord's LP that from the very start. Releases from Frostveil, Gorgon, Sielunvihollinen, Murdryck, Djevel, Sarastus, Vorga, Malum, Arnaut Lavle, Dark Seal, Advent Sorrow, White Ward, and Aegrus are all worthy of being labeled the best of 2019. But I choose Förgjord's masterpiece because I have never heard anything like it, I prefer raw black metal to all, and it's one of the greatest musical journeys--and black metal albums--of all time.