posted on 8/2012 By:
There are six guys in this band? Five to play, and one to apparently stand vigilant watch to make sure no one dozes off and takes a header into an amp cabinet. This entire record sounds as if someone's tossed a king-sized comforter over the magical boardwalk playground of The Lost Boys. If you could just manage to pull the damned thing off, you'd see a night-sky lined with roller coasters, dilapidated wax museums and fanged rockers pouncing on hot chicks. But it never quite happens. The cloud is never fully lifted. So you're left feeling oddly… hollow. Bamboozled. Bored. There are literally countless moments throughout Second World where the brew would be much more indulging if they'd just drive home a true vocal hook, or finish lifting one of the many guitar melodies into a proper lead. My God, man! If neither of your two guitarists is willing to let a competent, sweeping lead suitably lift listeners off the ground, then you bloody-well need to bribe a seventh player into the formula. Hell, I'd even take a damned powerlifter pealing off a scorching "I Still Believe" sax solo just to breathe some semblance of life into the beast.
It was that intriguing album cover that first drew me in: a rusty planet's lost populace heading toward a dark, hanging world. But the proper use of dynamics in the realm of dreary, goth-infused metal can either make or break an album, and unfortunately, Italy's The Foreshadowing falls on the wrong side of that crucial coin. And let's get things straight early: Metal of this ilk often makes for an easy target in a land populated by endless stacks of bands doing everything in their power to ride a trend or push the envelope of extremity, but even though my general proclivities have bent further away from this particular sub-genre over time, I still spend a good bit of my listening hours with ears pinned to the classic post-punk/goth-rock precursors that set the table for bands such as this. So I'm still game, if a band can manage to execute the style with a little panache.
The truly frustrating thing is that nearly any one-minute snapshot from these ten tunes shows a competently played form of drowsy, overcast modern Anathema / Katatonia with a stronger emphasis on keeping things tethered to the slower, 'doomier' side of, say, Sweden's Isole. That's a good thing, a positive concept for those who count any of those bands as blessings. And without question, The Foreshadowing's strongest adjunct lies in the pipes of vocalist Marco Benevento, who sounds as if he's spent more time exhaustively rehearsing in the school of Dave Gahan / Depeche Mode than under any of the disciplines of goth metal. But he needs help. He needs hooks in his choruses. He needs more dynamic layering. He needs more dynamic everything.
And it's not a case of "he just doesn't get it, man." I know slow metal. And I'm lovingly in tune with despair. It's the overall songwriting behind Second World that simply falls flat, or stubbornly refuses to let in a little air. Take "Noli Timere" as a prime example of what nearly every tune heeds as law. The opening two minutes is spent schlepping with a suitably gray, delicate atmosphere that's bolstered by Benevento's smooth baritone. But instead of using the ensuing pause as an opportunity to crush the listener with something appropriately epic -- a gut-wrenching lead, some double-kicking in the drums, or even a little creative zing in the keys -- they opt to plow dirt over your head with a minute's worth of plinking piano that totally slaughters the momentum. It's basically 55 minutes of good ideas that determinedly refuses to let any one player truly stand out. Reconnect with a record such as Fields of the Nephilim's Elizium for an example of how to properly execute an overall plodding gloom-goth recipe that's decidely more tantalizing.
I rarely jump up and down for opportunities to be a prick. And I've been in the game long enough to know that anything that manages to make its way to the shelves has a lot of hard work behind it. But this is record number three from The Foreshadowing, so it's time to shit or get off the pot. Shooting for that overall feel of warm, honeyed melancholy slowly weeping through the veins is one thing, but Second World, put summarily, is a slumbersome affair.
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