Escaping the Abysmal
Hailing from the world capital of atmospheric black metal that is Colchester, Greg Chivers has gathered himself a very talented group of musicians. Combined with a diverse sack of influences, the end result is a powerful & intelligent, if slightly bipolar debut that owes much to Scandinavian masters without ripping off their trademark styles.
Melodic passages bring to mind the progressive black/doom stylings of Agalloch & The Morningside. Certain parts, such as ballad Her Face in the Water, are too much for my heroic manly exterior but they appeal so much to my inner overweight, teenage goth girl that you can forgive them. That said, the vocal harmonies are so fantastic that I may just put on some eye-liner & light some candles.
Fornost Arnor are, of course, happy to break the mood with brutal black metal more reminiscent of Åkerfeldt at his most pissed off. The effects can be more jarring than a road trip with Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter but for the most part, play off well against each other. Black metal has never been one to shun those without musical talent but the sheer ability on here is astounding as is the production which only lets us down with a drum sound that could have done with a bit less compression. Gravity Denied is a brilliant showcase for Chivers’ guttural growls & Will Hall’s outstanding lead guitar work despite some questionable lyrics. Strength of the Heart follows suit with more guitar wank of the highest order.
Culminating on the 13 minute epic, The Tragedy of Delusion, Fornost Arnor present their magnum opus. A demonstration of their talent at crafting both the beautiful & the brutal, the final track gives them the space to move from one to the other. Their ability to generate a real atmosphere without resorting to the usual tricks i.e. nicking something off the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, is refreshing. Further vocal harmonies are provided by Elle Torry of Imperial Vengeance which, unlike Kerry King turning up at the studio unannounced BC Rich in hand, is the kind of seal of approval that actually means something.
Their debut lands at a time when the UK black metal scene is teeming with great bands & Escaping The Abyss puts Fornost Arnor very much within the top tier.