doing a two in one review here , for a few different reasons, lets just say the 2011 releases from these two bands are in the same neighborhood, even though one band is from Italy the other from Sweden. They in the past have shared a drummer but earlier work from both bands set them apart from one another where here The similarities are more pronounced , particularly strange as both bands have taken a stylistic shift .
Lets start with the opening act Forgotten Tomb and their release "Under Saturn Retrograde." Both albums have migrated from the Depressive Suicidal Black Metal sound into something more straight forward. Forgotten Tomb straddled the fence from Funeral Doom to Dsbm, the doom presence takes a back seat except in a few instances when they do the most noticeable difference in style occurs , like the clean vocals on the song shutter , which carry a bluesy almost Corrosion of Conformity feel.
Forgotten Tomb i'm not sure they benefit from this progression as much as Shining, their guitar work for me always stood out , and perhaps it's the production but the tight compression on the guitar marks a more run of the mill distortion, when complimented with the chugs and pitch harmonics , it seems like a step back. The drummers use of his china cymbal, feels more like a cowbell and also give them a more rock n roll sound.
The strong suits of the album wrestle against questionable choices like the cover of " i wanna be you dog " . Joyless makes up for this with it's Type o Negative vocals , though the rock n roll vibe picks up midway through, making me miss some of the creepy chords of the earlier material. Not sure if this is a move responding to label to expand their audience base. The playing despite the production is strong, the guitars get interesting enough at times to make me forget the straying from drew me to this band in the first place. the part two of the recaptures some of their earlier ambiance with the inclusion of the mournful acoustic guitar building into a melodic lead section.
This is by no means a bad album, there are certain more commercial aspects of some of the riffing taking on an almost arena rock tone at time that raises my eyebrows, but i'm sure i will get over it, and it is yet to be seen if it's one of the releases i grow into.
while embracing what could be seen as more commercial elements Shining's Fodd Forlorare, or born loser is still pretty dense, the riff have not only hooks but claws. The album seems angrier than depressed . Strangely even months after this album's release, the band was already in talks with King Diamond guitarist to produce this album's follow up. A big difference in my ears to Forgotten Tomb's nipping at their heels, is the more effective use of clean vocals, they stay consistently melancholy and i think bring back the eerie desperation of earlier days better than the harsher ones which sound more pissed than tortured. the clean vocals on one track are sung by Haken Hilman of Nordman, a band which broke up due to Haken's drug problem but have since reformed, one has to wonder if Niklas Kvarforth met him in rehab , or perhaps the swedish drug scene is closely knit among the rockers.
The tempo has picked up for this album , a direction they have been headed for the past couple releases. there is a enough dynamic shifts on this album to justify this. Where other black metal bands might rely on this as the reins to their one trick pony.The drumming catches up on this album to being as impressive as the guitar work , even the bass player shows some nice melodic embellishments, unique in a genre where bass is buried in the murk of guitar.
Like forgotten tomb, the polished production takes away from the density of their sound yet, with the varied sounds and passages on this one it's not as noticeable i like the cinematic keyboard mix, they are present with out turning the band into Nightwish. One thing i can say for this album is i enjoy it more every time i give it another spin