People that deny depression is a true illness and disorder that requires treatment always grate me. Those people either never had a bout of depression (which I doubt) or they’re those faux tough folks who think you just suck it up and move on. Be tough! Yeah. Doesn’t really work that way. Trust me, I know.
So yes, I’ve been down that road many, many times myself, and now and again, I’ll make some return trips for old time’s sake. I’ve been on treatment for more than half a decade (but effectively for the last couple of years), and I can attest that being out of the throes of such constant misery is life altering. But those characteristics I often showed and the weird chemical imbalances in my brain aren’t cured, they’re just kept under control, so when I identify the same things in other people, I can empathize. That’s probably a major reason I identify so much with doom metal, because it can be dreary and the summation of one’s inner turmoil.
That expression can be healthy, though. Bottling everything inside just makes for a powder keg ready to explode, and no one benefits from that, not the least of which is the person suffering. I often find when I visit truly sorrowful doom that I can remember some of the trials and tribulations that overtook me and revisit the ways I started to feel better and how I don’t care to return to that place. It also allows an outlet for dumping the things that still do ail me, because it’s OK and perfectly normal to feel sad, alone, and downtrodden. If anyone ever tells you any differently, smack the person.
So that leads me to Italian gothic doom outfit the Foreshadowing and their latest attempt to break this band in the United States. Metal Blade is picking up the band’s new record and their 2010 release “Oionos” from Cyclone Empire for wider distribution domestically, and people who like bands such as 40 Watt Sun (who are labelmates), Katatonia, and Woods of Ypres might be interested in learning about these guys. The band is made up of members of other notable, but lesser-known outfits such as Klimt 1918, Grimness, Spiritual Ceremony, and How Like a Winter, and their experience making dark, sad metal elsewhere certainly seems to have benefitted these guys with this project. They’re well oiled, effective, and tight, and these two records here certainly deserve your attention.
We covered the idea of sorrow and depression that makes up a giant chunk of the Foreshadowing’s music, but there’s another foreboding element at foot: Apocalypse. You can hear their many references to war, slaughter, and societies burning to the ground to know these guys go beyond just feeling bad. They see the evil and destructive nature of what’s around us and of each other, and they seem very preoccupied with the idea we could be lighting the match to our destruction. Really, can anyone blame them for seeing things this way? Only if your eyes and ears are closed to reality.
We’ll start with “Oionos,” their 2010 sophomore record that’s getting reissue treatment (their debut “Days of Nothing” was released by Candlelight) and should immediately insert itself into the discussion of this decade’s better pure doom albums. It’s a really strong document, one where the band plays with confidence and precision, and the gothic undertones serve the music quite well. A lot of times when bands go that route, they get cheesy and ridiculous, but these guys instead use the intrinsic sorrow found in that music to make their creations even more organically darker.
Vocalist Marco Benevento is worth the price of admission alone. Even when the songs have some weak moments, which they do here and there on “Oionos” and more so on “Second World,” he muscles the band through those parts and keeps you captivated. His voice, an expressive baritone, suits these songs perfectly, and his grasp of emotional delivery is tight and true.
“The Dawning” opens “Oionos” properly, with militaristic drumming, a deep sense of melancholy, and Benevento pondering, “Who knows if we’ll wake up at dawn?” The title cut is interesting, as it opens with what sounds like throat singing, then spills ominous doom and heavy organs all over the place. “Fallen Reign” examines defeat and failure, with the reflective line, “What remains of this life?” “Lost Humanity is crunchier and heavier, showing the more muscular side of the band they’d display in greater force on “Second World.” Same goes for “Chant of Widows.” “Hope. She’s in the Water” is a dark, crushing examination of war-time destruction and how it affects mankind. Accompanying the track is a sample of FDR’s “a date that will live in infamy” speech following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The band covers Sting’s “Russians,” an odd choice musically but certainly not thematically, and they do a fine job, while sobering “Revelations 3:11″ (a scripture passage Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown”) lets the fires burn out and the soot left for examination.
“Second World,” originally released in April by Cyclone Empire, is the Foreshadowing’s latest effort and third overall. It stays the course pretty much, so you’re not in for a lot of surprises, and overall it’s not as strong as “Oionos.” For one, some of the guitar work is a little mundane and dull. Some of the downtuned stuff by Andrea Chiodetti and Alessandro Pace comes off as clichéd and not terribly imaginative (specifically on “Havoc” and “Aftermaths”), but luckily that’s only a sliver of the overall pie. This certainly is a good record, that manages to gain steam as it moves along, and by the time it closes with somber, slightly ambient “Friends of Pain,” the payoff to this experience is measurable.
“The Forsaken Son” is an example of the band getting a little grittier and heavier, and overall the sentiment is a little rougher on this record. There also are some intriguing passages on this album, from the passionate, somber sentiment of “Outcast,” to the near liturgical chants turned in by the band on atmospheric tracks such as “Reverie Is a Tyrant” and excellent “Noli Timere.” The best of all of the cuts are crushing ballad “Ground Zero,” a heart-lies-bleeding piece that could take on any number of meanings, with Benevento observing, “We call our last goodbye,” and folk-infused, furious “Colonies,” which is full of anger and desperation. When Benevento howls, “In the name of Western homicide, we built our empires,” you certainly can feel every ounce of emotion in his voice. It also should give the listener a lot on which to reflect.
It may have taken some doing and a pick-up by Metal Blade for the Foreshadowing to finally have a chance for impact in America. Whether their music takes is another thing, but I don’t see why it can’t. It’s emotional and real, sad and biting, and with rage where it’s appropriate. Plus, they happen to be a damn capable band, one worth following into their murky future.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.theforeshadowing.com/
To buy the albums, go here: http://www.indiemerchstore.com/item/14960/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.metalblade.com/english/content.php
And here: http://www.cyclone-empire.com/