Dark adventures are not for everyone, but those who embark can find so many things to take away, even when the waters are choppy and dangerous. Records that are more theatrical in presentation don’t offer the quick sugary shots 3-minute songs can, but using your imagination and indulging in the music can help you take that journey and get way more than you can from a bite size.
“Black Terrain,” the second record from Forlesen, is an album that is not great fodder for making quick playlists, unless their music is going to be helping you through a five-hour dental surgery (thanks, Forlesen!). These four tracks that stretch over nearly 60 minutes require your full immersion in order to get all the nutrients packed inside, but if you commit, you’ll find yourself on that dark sojourn, visiting murky terrain but also some exciting peaks that fill your guts with excitement. The band—Ascalaphus (vocals, guitars, synth, harmonium, bass), Bezaelith (vocals, bass, guitars, synth), Petit Albert (guitars, synth, Hammond B3 organ, backing vocals), Maleus (drums)— all have experience with other forward-thinking acts including the Botanist, Lotus Thief, Maudlin of the Well, and Kayo Dot, and they pour all of their imagination, solemnity, anger, and restlessness into this incredible record. It should be noted the great Leila Abdul-Rauf provides glockenspiel and trumpet, helping these four artists flesh out songs that are their own mini cinematic adventures that will enthrall and shake your hungry psyche.
“Strega” is the 19:10 opener, a track that works through a lifetimes of emotions and experiences, feeling like a centuries-long excursion from the wounds sustained. Doom clouds as Ascalaphus’s gentle vocals tell the story of loss and longing, melting through sorrow as Bezaelith’s joins as well, the somber journey only getting darker. The tempo picks up as the guitars drive the dagger, growls sizzle beneath, and we’re back to quiet and calmer waters, with agony swimming beneath. “We are the damned, but we held each other sometimes, we are the damned, then our arms became like chains,” infect your blood, a scorching fury unloads and leaves flesh torched, and the delicate surge takes over and flows into the title track, the shortest track on here, running 8:57. Sounds hover as gloomy passages get thicker and more ominous, drums echoing as Bezaelith calls into the shadows. The storm hangs over head as static spits, and a long, dark, dreamy passage gets more immersive, continuing to bolster stormy skies threatening and eventually sliding its way into oblivion.
“Harrowed Earth” runs 12:29 and delivers an instant burst, furious growls gnawing as bruised flesh begs for solace. “Avert not thine eyes, thou art lost, and cowardice becomes only the suicides, the path revealed, raise up a rock and murder love,” is wailed and blackens hearts, vicious shrieks penetrate, and the fires engulf and spread. There’s a respite from the vicious waves as Bezaelith calls over the tension, paying the emotional toll and soothing wounds. Things slowly melt as wild cries slash the sky, staggering riffs numb, and everything comes to a blurry end. Closer “Saturnine” runs 18:07, and the first eight minutes or so generate cosmic coldness, hovering and speaking in murmurs, exposing you to the frighteningly spacious universe. Guitars then buzz in and send shrapnel flying, the playing buzzes, and both voices combine and generate dreams before unrealized. “Time makes beasts of all its golden children, wild eyed, the ever-churning tide, as we egress through parodies of infancy, and we await being born,” makes your mind tumble and fall, hearts gush as the playing spirals, and the final call of, “Go now and let it all come…” haunts you dimensionally and reverberates as everything fades in noise.
“Black Terrain” is an exceptional experience, a record you absolutely must visit multiple times so that every rich element here can get into your brain and stimulate your imagination. Forlesen bring plenty of darkness but also the possibility of rebirth on your own terms, and these four tracks and nearly hourlong run time provide a thrilling and harrowing adventure of surging highs and crushing lows, embodying the human experience. This is a record that’s hard to fully convey in words, hard as we tried, so visit the music, make the journey yourself, and take inventory of your own transformation once the Forlesen craft lands and drops you off in the shadows of your own doorstep.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Forlesen/
To buy the album, go here: https://i-voidhangerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/black-terrain
Or here: https://metalodyssey.8merch.us/
For more on the label, go here: http://i-voidhanger.com/