Album Review – Forlesen / Black Terrain (2022)

This doomed entity hailing from Portland, Oregon brings forward four monolithic songs that will fully immerse the listener in a contrast of the serene and cacophonous in their new opus.

Formed in San Francisco, California at the end of 2016, but currently based in Portland, Oregon, Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal outfit Forlesen draws from Epic Doom, Black Metal, Slowcore and Dark Ambient to subvert traditional songwriting with their new full-length, entitled Black Terrain, which weaves heartbreak and hypnosis to show the band at their most vulnerable and vicious. Mixed by Jack Shirley at The Atomic Garden, mastered by Garrett Haines at Treelady Studios, and displaying a beautiful artwork by Benjamin A. Vierling, Black Terrain brings forward four monolithic songs, at times approaching twenty minutes in length, fully immersing the listener in a contrast of the serene and cacophonous, showcasing the evolution in the sound crafted by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ascalaphus (Botanist), vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Bezaelith (Lotus Thief), guitarist Petit Albert (Lotus Thief), and drummer Maleus (Kayo Dot, Maudlin Of The Well) from their debut effort Hierophant Violent,  being therefore highly recommended for fans of Candlemass, Dead Can Dance, Low and Neurosis, among several others.

An eerie, otherworldly start gradually evolves into an atmospheric and somber Doom Metal sonority led by the sluggish beats by Maleus in Strega, while Ascalaphus, Bezaelith and Petit Albert darken the skies with their minimalist but heavy-as-hell riffs and whimsical vocalizations, flowing smoothly while also offering us all a neck-breaking rhythm. Furthermore, its beautiful guitar work will penetrate deep inside our hearts, also showcasing a perfect balance between the delicate vocals by Bezaelith and the devilish roars from her bandmates, making an instant connection with the title-track Black Terrain, where the band continues to permeate the air with their melodic and grim sounds. The whole song is effectively energized by the tribalistic drums by Maleus while Bezaelith delivers introspective, ethereal vocal lines, suddenly morphing into the Black Metal-infused aria Harrowed Earth, bringing to our avid ears a multi-layered, enfolding and caustic explosion of sounds spearheaded by the blast beast by Maleus and the wicked, dirty riffage by Ascalaphus, Bezaelith and Petit Albert. Put differently, it’s Atmospheric Black Metal at its finest, evolving to a more obscure form of Doom Metal as time passes by. Lastly, in Saturnine the lyrics will put you in a doomed trance (“Come now and let it all go… / Time is a beast devouring it’s children / Wild eyed, the ever churning tide / He does suppress the cries of nascent sovereignty / Lest golden ages be undone / Time makes beasts of all its golden children / Wild eyed, the ever churning tide / As we egress through parodies of infancy / And we await being born / Go now and let it all come…”), while the music remains serene, infuriated, lugubrious and alive all at the same time, resulting in a spot-on fusion of Ambient and Doom Metal.

The doomed beast known as Forlesen can be found on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other details about their wicked music, and you can also stream all of their creations on Spotify. However, if you want to show your true support to the underground, you should purchase a copy of the eccentric Black Terrain from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page, from Metal Odissey as a CD or double LP, or from Apple Music, showing all the passion you nurture in your blackened heart for contemporary doom. The songs in Black Terrain might be lengthy, sluggish, somber and pensive, but that’s exactly what makes the album so compelling, consequently  inspiring the band to keep spreading their wings over this black terrain we live called earth.

Best moments of the album: Strega and Harrowed Earth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Strega 19:10
2. Black Terrain 8:57
3. Harrowed Earth 12:29
4. Saturnine 18:07

Band members
Ascalaphus – vocals, guitars, synth, harmonium, bass
Bezaelith – vocals, bass, guitars, synth
Petit Albert – guitars, synth, Hammond B3 organ, backing vocals
Maleus – drums

Guest musician
Leila Abdul-Rauf – glockenspiel, trumpet

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