Monday, 2 August 2010

Forgotten Winter - Dialéctica Transcendental (2009) 40/100.

Forgotten Winter are a self-proclaimed astral black metal band who focus on the use of integral keyboards. This debut album, entitled ‘Dialéctica Transcendental’ is a symphonic treat in places, a la ‘Ecoar Da Reminiscência’ and a horrible mess in others, ‘Imaginário Hipnagógico e Sensações Cinestéticas’. I’m not a big fan of Portuguese metal. The country seems to have a very under-developed sound across most of its genres that I’ve dabbled in, particularly in the black metal genre. Bands like Forgotten Winter aren’t exactly a by-the-numbers, but they’re certainly not as profound as they think they are. The use of keyboards on the song I first mentioned is exquisite in some ways and overly obnoxious in others. Bands of this nature have somehow managed to find their way to me a lot over recent times. I think back to Canada’s Melancolia, a one-man project who use integral keyboards alongside black metal music to make some really stunning soundscapes that develop both a beautiful side to the approach and a melancholic side which contrasts the former well.

Forgotten Winter, clichéd name and all, are a band who seem to believe they’re mixing the two -- black metal and symphonic music -- without too much hassle to the listener, but there are numerous problems to be found on this disjointed piece which probably overstays its welcome given the lengthy duration of some of the songs and the album in general. The first song, entitled ‘Imaginário Hipnagógico e Sensações Cinestéticas’ should really be removed from the proceedings altogether. This song is the second longest on the album and completely instrumental, seemingly attempting to showcase the brilliance of the keyboards when all it really does is invite the listener into a strange cosmic journey that, like space, seems to go on forever and ever without much variation. This black hole of a song lacks the legs to stand up and be counted for. The song drifts aimlessly from one corner of the cosmic world to another without ever excelling beyond the boundaries of the limited soundscapes.

This song is really an indication of what is to come in terms of the keyboards. On occasions, as with the follow-up to this lacklustre opening song which doesn’t hook me at all, the keyboards are refined and generous in their allowance of the other elements to stride confidently forward and make their mark on proceedings but, for the most part, although the keyboards are definitely the finest element of the record, they restrict the other aspects to background noise, including the rasped vocals which I would have expected to be a little more domineering than they really are. The introductory instrumental song reminds me of some of Burzum’s ambient works. I assume that is where this Portuguese band got their inspiration from as the ambiance drifts ever-so-slowly like that on ‘Filosofem’ or at the end of ‘Hvis Lyset Tar Oss’. The ambiance here however, isn’t a fundamental part of the album. This introductory song would probably be best kept as the last song on the album instead of the first. It doesn’t direct the atmosphere at all well as the second song is completely different.

It serves only as an indication of how important the keyboards are, but not exactly how they’ll be implemented into the rest of the songs because they stand alone on this first track. ‘Chuva (Materialização da Empatia)’ begins with a lush atmosphere. The feeling of the keyboards is somewhat romanticised. The keyboards sound very epic, quite stunning and alongside the muted bass in the background, they form a nice collaborative sound. However, the repetitious and lifeless drumming comes into the fray and the vocals move in, though always as a distant aspect and never a force. In fact, on songs like the aforementioned, the vocals are very quiet. Given that the distortion on the album is kept to a minimal level with the keyboards being the priority, the rasped vocals were never going to be an asset. The twinkling atmospherics once again seem to take the shape of the ambient Burzum works and, as with those works, the ambiance doesn’t make much of an impact upon myself.

For the remainder of the album, the state-of-play is pretty much the same. Keyboards dominate, everything else besides just a footnote at the bottom of the page. Thanks for taking part, but you can fade away now and allow the keyboards to work their supposed magic and that will be that. ‘Cruzando o Horizonte de Eventos’ is a terrific example of the curse of Forgotten Winter. The keyboards abuse the album by playing technically over the simplistic instrumentation that the bass, drums and guitars supply. The vocals are almost completely worthless in their rasped form as the keyboards are determined not to relinquish their grasp of the atmosphere. Even on songs like ‘Cruzando o Horizonte de Eventos’ where, strangely, the keyboards take a backseat to the rest of the instrumentation, which had never been the case before and this gives the album, once again, an even greater disjointed feel. The album operates for long periods under the impression that it is far more important and influential than it is. The instrumentation is poorly pieced together and the keyboards are too controlling. A disaster!

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