Originally written by Erik Thomas
I like doom metal. I like black metal. Then why am I not totally feeling this? A one-man project (red flag) by one Italian gentleman by the name of Herr Morbid, Forgotten Tomb is a stark album in all facets, from the artwork to the actual songs on display. But at least the self-promotion is accurate: “Depressive and Manipulating Dark metal”. Bingo. Forgotten Tomb is a barren sonic wasteland that treads doom metal’s depressive persona, but dresses it up in the foul cape of black metal’s harsh atmospherics; raw guitar tone and agonizing screamed vocals, just played slowly.
The pacing reminded me a lot of early Bloodthorn without the lush theatrics or fantasy vibe. Plodding, but at the same time darkly epic and morose. Still it didn’t make for an enjoyable long-term listen, although acceptable in one-song increments, mainly due to the doom natured repetitive stylings of the riffs contained in lengthy wandering songs. How I normally gauge this kind of emotion reliant music is how quickly it makes my eyelids heavy (Shape of Despair is the current champ at 24 seconds), in a good way though. The droning pace and lack of percussive aggression on this kind of music makes me sleepy, so the quicker I fall asleep the better.
The problem is the caustic black metal guitar tone and abrasive vocals make falling asleep hard despite the lethargic songs. Throw in a savage blast beat opens the third track “Daylight Obsession”, which puts a severe damper in my napping. After two forgettable droning tracks, Forgotten Tomb tries to be pure black metal? At least it changes up the pace a bit, but doesn’t really add much to the album. However the eyelids begin to get mighty heavy as the relaxing and contrasting acoustics of the title track waft into my ears showing if anything, Herr Morbid can change it up on a whim, and reach both ends of the musical spectrum with ease.
Normalcy returns for “Colorless Despondency”, that features an actual real riff amid its morose sonic shuffling, albeit the same riff for the full 7 minutes. Then, what’s a truly depressing album without a 10 plus minute opus to ensure REM is reached before the CD stops spinning? “Subway Apathy?” (?) acts as the deep sleep inducer of this album, as Herr Morbid wails through the album’s crowning moments. The stellar riff that surfaces at the 5-minute mark is far more suited to the down-tuned brethren of Doom’s true nature, and it also has some ever-so subtle but effective synth work that adds a measure of haunting to the proceedings rather effectively. This last track effectively makes the album worthwhile, but it’s a shame Herr morbid cant come up with this kind of material more consistently for a whole album, as essentially for me, the first 5 tracks are not nearly as effective, despite their despondence and somber mood.
This album is one of those rare dichotomies for me. Is it a good album? Sure. It does what’s advertised and delivers a bleak sonic journey into depression. Did I like it? Not particularly, and if it wasn’t for the ending opus I probably wouldn’t even give this any more listens. Basically, black metal’s raw grating tone is accentuated by the slower material, thereby making it not entirely enjoyable for me, as I prefer that tone to be rendered with a scathing hyper-blast approach, not solemn drawn out monotones that grate with me even more. Still, it’s an interesting concept that should appeal to those not quite ready to commit suicide-this should help.