Thursday 2 May 2019

Forgotten - Of Past and Passion (2019)

Country: Turkey
Style: Doom/Death Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 5 Apr 2019
Sites: Facebook | Metal Archives | YouTube

After finding a speed or thrash album that just cleans me out spiritually and emotionally, I like to settle down with some good doom/death, not least because it feels even slower in comparison. After the blitzkrieg of Seax, I found that Forgotten really did the trick, this Turkish band finding a neat vibe over five songs of wildly inconsistent length, as introspective as its evocative cover art.

Apparently, they've been around since 1995, founded in Ankara by guitarist Tolga Otabatmaz. However, they broke up for nine years after only recording a couple of demos. Eventually, they got back together and put out an album, 13 Martyrs, in 2012. I'll be seeking that out, having thoroughly enjoyed a chillout to this long overdue follow-up.

Forgotten have three modes and the opening title track, almost nine minutes of it, demonstrates them all wonderfully.

Firstly, there's a quiet one featuring sparse guitars, patient drums and storytelling vocals. I say guitars (plural) because there are two of them. In isolation, I might suggest that Reha Kuldaşlı and Tolga Otabatmaz are just noodling, but their noodlings weave together very well so clearly they have a very good plan. I'm not sure how people can look inward together but it works for them.

Then there's a noisier mode, in which Serdar Güzelişler's drums get a good deal more emphatic, those guitars ramp up a few notches in power and Harun Altun's vocals follow suit, though not quite so much as we might expect. He has little intention of screaming or shouting at this point, but he does intensify his delivery.

Finally, there's full on doom/death, in which everyone ramps up the power and we feel the chug and the Paradise Lost guitars. Rather strangely, given that Altun introduces this section of the title track with a death grunt, he doesn't contribute much and lets the band behind him deliver the heaviness instead.

After a nearly nine minute track, we get a six minute one, Blue Rain, that does a similar job on a much less epic scale, and then one that runs less than three minutes, because it's an interlude, mostly on piano with some added atmosphere. I'm not sure how viable an interlude is on an album that only just exceeds half an hour, but I like Remnants of a Faint Memory.

Maybe it's there to settle us down for the longest track on offer, eleven minutes plus of The Serpent Once You Were, which to me is a real highlight. A heartbeat leads us in to an agreeable crunch and we're back in the early nineties with My Dying Bride. Altun is at his most evocative here and those twin guitars are achingly slow and full of melancholy melody. I appreciated how the bass let them set the mood and then joined in to deepen it.

While the title track has its peaks and troughs, as Forgotten switch from quiet to noisier mode and back again, before eventually launching into full on doom/death, The Serpent Once You Were starts higher and dips lower for a more emotional journey. It ends in whispers, which works really well for me as the backing music fades away. I have to say that this could easily have crossed the line into pretentious territory, especially with the flatlining heart beat to emphasise it, but it doesn't. It does its job well.

And, with the four minute instrumental called Lethargic to ironically spark things back up as the album wraps, we look back on a doom/death album that's dominated by its twin quiet guitars rather than its vocals or orchestration. Frankly, it's exactly what I was looking for today after the heady rush of Seax, but it's unusual enough to remark on. This is a very folky doom/death album, just as slow as you'd expect but in a quieter and more instrumental fashion. That's cool.

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