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drek. - 33%

Noktorn, December 3rd, 2011

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.