Friday, 26 March 2010

Forgive Me - Last Drop of Life (2010) 38/100.

If you’re familiar with my reviewing habits, you should by now know that I’m a huge fan of depressive black metal. However, there has lately been a real shortage of new bands with, at the very least, a sound which could be described as decent, let alone ground breaking. Not only has the beginning of 2010 proved somewhat difficult for the much maligned sub-genre, but 2009 was hardly any better over its entirety. As one would expect of a fan like me, I was very excited to hear that there was a band from Jordan, of all places, who were grabbing the attention of fellow fans. Somehow, this Jordanian act had passed me by and what makes that fact even more astonishing, in my eyes, is the additional fact that they’ve been extensively reviewed on Metal Archives itself. Flying in under the radar and with a massive reputation behind them, this two man act, spearheaded by any already established figure, one who is regarded as a genuine underground talent in the metal scene due to his participation with melodic doom metal band Lord Azmo, Lozmodial had inspired a sense of eagerness and excitement in me for alas! This could be the band I had been frantically searching for, for the best part of a year.

Having spun Forgive Me’s debut full-length, entitled ‘Last Drop of Life’ a few times, I’m not left with the sense of accomplishment that comes from discovering a truly wondrous band. Instead, I’m left with a sour taste in my mouth, a feeling of disappointed and even a desperate feeling of rage is building beneath my normally reserved exterior. I expected many things from Forgive Me, but not a sense of dissatisfaction that comes with agonising disappointment. ‘Last Drop of Life’ leaves me with the dreaded emotion of thinking I was on the verge of greatness when in fact the truth was obscured by a misguided vision I had built in my imaginative mind. It’s never easy to gauge how good, or bad something will be going by a filler track alone, but ever since the end of the first song, I couldn’t shake of the feeling I was going to be in for a night of perpetuated disappointment. As fillers go, ‘January: Entrance for the Ending’ is as useless as they come when giving the listener an impression of what sort of emotional values they will be able to conjure up from the atmospheric tendencies of the band. Atmosphere is just one of a number of things lacking, as shown painfully on the fuzzy cover of Forgotten Tomb’s clean ‘Springtime Depression’.

The cover sounds sloppy given the lo-fi buzzing of the production and due to this, it doesn’t come across as painfully emotional or pure, like the original. The introductory song is never one I place my faith in and the introduction for this record shows exactly why that is. It adds nothing to the record. No sense of expectation, no nothing. However, in hindsight, a tragic sense of cruel irony rears its ugly and unwanted head. The uselessness of the introduction describes perfectly much of the material that follows it. From one song to another, this Jordanian act are incapable of forging the true basis and essence of depressive black metal -- hypnotic, repetitive guitar based songs which capture the imagination and give emotions like depression, loneliness and sadness a soundtrack. ‘Funerals of Birth’ is a perfect example of the many troubles the twosome encounter along their travels. The record has its fair share of repetitive riffs, but none are memorable. When focusing on song writing, though the sub-genre itself may require long periods of repetition, Lozmodial, the main contributor to the issues which face the listener, must place an emphasis on creating powerful riffs which will give the various emotions that the sub-genre covers a strong voice which can be heard over a loud crowd.

Instead, Lozmodial’s riffs whimper in a sheepish manner in the corner of a crowded room, phased out by the noise of more capable bands and song writers. Anxiety grew within me the first time I heard this record, not because the atmospheric capabilities made me anxious, or nervous due to their devastating prowess, but because I felt an unfortunate sense of second hand embarrassment building and I was eager to rid myself of it by repressing what had just taken place. Not only are the guitars sub par due to their sheer lack of longevity, but every other element, from the nonexistent presence of the drums, to the strange array of vocals that “contribute” to the record combine to make this one giant heap of garbage, spewed forth by someone regarded as a talented musician due to his work with the melodic doom metal band Lord Azmo. One would imagine that, as a doom metal musician, he’d be accustomed to fusing melancholy into the atmosphere, but the soundscapes are devoid of any sense of emotion. The dismal ‘Into The Shroud’ is another good example of the dull, derivative structures that Lozmodial places within his songs.

The chaotic beginning with forced distortion and repetition is akin to the old school bands like Darkthrone, or even the Russian legions of raw, aggressive black metal bands, though there is definitely more accessibility to the production, which is generally poor regardless. The vocals are horrendous. Both musicians supply their vocal ideas and culminate pathetically. In contrast to the best vocalists of the sub-genre, like Icare of Gris for example, they’re not even worth recognising as vocalists. From spoken words, to hissed rasps, the vocals lack in every way that the bass, drums and guitars do but considering, alongside the guitars, they’re one of the more fore fronted elements, I take more grievance with them than the lacklustre bass and the atrocious drums which fail to punctuate a tough sounding production and are, almost on all occasions, overpowered by the guitars and even the hissed vocals! Forgive Me seem to want to appear as a quirkier depressive band by using an array of vocals, but instead of coming across as audaciously experimental and ground breaking, they sound forced and rather pretentious. Whilst I do prefer the slower, ambient tinged sections whereby the vocals are omitted and the guitars have a much cleaner, emotional feel, these are sparse and often ruined by the dullness that is Forgive Me’s chaotic approach, as shown delightfully on ‘My Wrecked Branch’. The band does attempt to merge the two, which sounds fair, but this attempt at beneficial creativity is a little too late. A poor effort and certainly not what I expected.

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