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Prog seems to be in the air in black metal circles these days. Nachtmystium have gone all psychedelic, Enslaved and Shining are obsessed with Pink Floyd and even orthodox Norwegian Black Metal stalwarts 1349 have a Floyd cover on their new album.
On their new full length 'Negative Megalomania', Italy's Forgotten Tomb have expanded upon their depressive BM formula, resulting in a varied and intriguing album that has polarised opinion amongst their fans.
Their trademark features are all still there; Burzum-style agonised screams and bleak, fuzzy guitars; melancholy riffs in the vein of early Katatonia and frequent sections of frenetic black metal blasting, but alongside these are drawn out chuggy/ambient doomier sections, post-rock moments, a greater emphaisis on the catchy 'black and roll' style popularised by the likes of Shining, and most notably of all, the introduction of clean vocals!
These came as quite a shock to me, as vocalist Herr Morbid's crooning initially sounds quite incongruous and out of place, but to be fair he is not only a more-than-competent singer but he varies his performance throughout the album, reminding of Devin Townsend's cock-rock singing on his 'Ocean Machine' project on one song and adopting a grungy, Alice In Chains style on another.
The album is nothing if not experimental, marrying various musical elements throughout each track, but the band have the sense to play to their main strength, namely building up slowly to beautifully melancholy flourishes of "Brave Murder Day" style riffs, sometimes accompanied here by "Icon" era Paradise Lost style finger-tapping or clean vocals/tortured growls.
The ending to the final track, 'Blood and Concrete' is particularly excellent, giving way after a full ten minutes of alternating doomy crawling and furious blasting to My Dying Bride-style harmonised guitars positively dripping with sadness before finally shifting to some excellent Paradise Lost style riffing that manages to be both melancholy and hugely uplifting at the same time, bringing the album to a very satisfying close.
Overall then 'Negative Megalomania' is a curious and experimental album that continually throws curveballs at the listener throughout its 57 minutes of runtime, and whilst some parts work better than others the overall result is very enjoyable. Whilst the slower parts can be overlong at times, this is more than made up for by the varied songwriting and the way in which the songs slowly build towards the consistently excellent, sorrowful riffs that are Forgotten Tomb's trademark.
A real grower.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Dish Best Served Cold
2 No Rehab (Final Exit)
3 Negative Megalomania
5 Blood and Concrete