posted on 2/2007 By:
This is my first exposure to Italy’s Forgotten Tomb, and I have to say I am very impressed. My research shows that this band has built their reputation as a hybrid of doom and black metal, which piqued my interest as a fan of both. But after hearing Negative Megalomania several times, I find this description to be kind of misleading.
Forgotten Tomb seems to take a little influence from all over the place, making pinning down their sound difficult. At the root of it all this is heavy, riff-based, melancholic doom, with significant traditional metal overtones and a touch of My Dying Bride-style goth thrown in for good measure. The only real thing I found in common with black metal would be Herr Morbid’s harsh vocals, which remain in the raspy, mid-range category, as well as some of the somber, clean guitar interludes that bring modern day U.S. suicidal black metal acts like Leviathan and Xasthur to mind. Unlike those bands, however, the production here is crisp, clear, and heavy, keeping everything balanced and highlighting the individual performances of all the members very well. Forgotten Tomb prove that a necro sound is not necessary to create a dismal atmosphere.
If there’s one single thing that really amazed me about Negative Megalomania, it’s the lead guitar work. It's simply outstanding. Rather than rely on studio atmospherics or slow, repetitive tempo to create a depressing mood, Forgotten Tomb rely primarily on Razor SK’s sorrowful leads to carry the songs. The lead playing is catchy and very emotive, and it gives the album a relatively accessible and cohesive feel that is most welcome. The closing four minutes of the title track are the best example of the talent this man possesses as a guitarist; beautiful repeating melodies eventually lead into a phenomenal solo that closes the song on a sad yet strangely uplifting note. It's very refreshing to hear a band build its mood around clear riffs and leads rather than a muddled production or over-reliance on keyboards, and I honestly haven’t heard guitar playing this tastefully played and effectively placed in quite some time. Incredible stuff.
Although this is a pretty weighty listen, with four out of the five tracks clocking in at over eleven minutes, the band keeps things interesting and entertaining all the way through for the most part, due to intelligent tempo and delivery changes throughout. Opener “A Dish Best Served Cold” opens things on a great note with chilling vocals and some delightfully old-school riffing before launching into one of the album‘s few real black metal segments. This is followed by “No Rehab (Final Exit)“, a great example of the multitude of different styles Forgotten Tomb is influenced by, beginning with some creepy clean guitar picking that sets the mood well. While the band obviously makes an effort not to bore the listener, they do occasionally end up meandering aimlessly in between some of the more powerful moments of the songs, especially on “The Scapegoat”, which lacks the emotion and flair of the rest of the album and drags along at a limp. The song also loses points due to Herr Morbid’s clean vocals, which dominate the track and leave a lot to be desired. Things pick back up again for the album’s last cut, fourteen-minute closer “Blood And Concrete”. This is definitely the strongest song on the album due to the amount of variety here, including more great blackish moments and once again closing on some wonderful lead riffing.
Forgotten Tomb have accomplished something pretty great, in that they have successfully mixed the utterly depressing nature of modern day doom and black metal with the hard rocking sensibility of some of the genre‘s old hats. This is an excellent album, and a must have for fans of early Katatonia, Disembowelment, or anyone looking for something bleak but heavy and forward-thinking. These guys definitely have my attention.
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