ALBUM REVIEW: Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement

I’m just going to come right out and say it: Italy’s Forgotten Tomb is one of the most criminally underrated bands in the Harsh Doom arena, most probably because its early fanbase still feels aggrieved at its reinvention from a Black metal band. Get over it: it’s been that way for the last seventeen years and eight albums. With a solid unit existing throughout that period, it’s also safe to say that this is more than Herr Morbid‘s project, and new album Nihilistic Estrangement (Agonia Records) continues to display the trio’s ever-strengthening unity with expansions on the core sound.

It’s Morbid’s growling riff that kicks off opener ‘Active Shooter’, alongside his familiar diseased larynx, and with the cascading lead driving through the underbelly it turns into a Black ‘n’ Roll romp: some marvellous chimes giving an emotional edge to the bridges while the steadily motoring, sinister body is powered by Algoi‘s thunderous bass and Asher‘s hulking stickwork. It’s a more accessible vibe yet no less meaningful, and that Dark Country feel snakes into ‘Iris’ House Pt. 1′: slide guitar and tumbling chords creating a fearsome decoration atop the more recognisable Doom pace, Morbid both speaking and rasping out the tale while even Asher’s chunky blastbeats carry a portentous aura. It’s Blackened Spaghetti Doom if you will, and it’s something that really sends chills down the spine.

‘Iris’ House Pt. 2′ continues both the misery and the intrigue, the lead strings of the chorus taking a more light-hearted tone but with the whole no less threatening, no less murderous. Quiet periods relieve the oppressive nature but maintain a level of horror, which explodes in the listener’s ears alongside the spooky melodic patterns as the track recovers its vile anger. ‘Distrust‘ maintains the post-Black lead jangles and a NWOBHM-like pace, but there’s often a more rampant and bitter edge that drives the song toward ‘potential live favourite’ status: swerving riffs and blastbeats coat the choruses but the clever composition of the centrepiece sees a progressive feel take a grip while losing none of the venom. The classic title track, meanwhile, starts with an almost joyous meander through summer fields before really turning on the invention: a truly emotional journey under darkened skies but with real melody from those strings tempering the slow, hulking rhythm and lending an 80s Gothic feel to proceedings. Despite the screaming agony of Morbid’s voice it’s potentially the most gorgeous nine minutes in Forgotten Tomb’s canon, and ends as delicately as it began.

Conversely, closer ‘RBMK’ is a real Black / Doom monster, Algoi’s bass a careering gallop and Asher’s drums a brutal hammer throughout, while Morbid’s guitars chime and shimmer with glittering, violent abandon. It’s a great way to close a varied, bruising, and affecting set: finish with what you know, having already etched new, dark yet vibrant scars across the mind.

8 / 10

PAUL QUINN