FORGE - Dark

Forge - Dark

9 songs
60:12 minutes
***** **


Few countries have more rock bands per capita than Luxembourg, but that doesnít mean that all of the newcomers have to consist of youngsters. Take for instance Forge, a heavy doom rock band, where two of the musicians are close to fifty years old. Vocalist/guitarist Mars and bass player Denis, who both have impressively long beards, used to play in Clean State, whereas the also bearded Ė if not yet as impressively Ė drummer Andy is still a lot younger.

This trio must have chosen the heavy doom rock instead of the more common doom metal label because they add more melody that you would usually suspect from the genre. The nine songs on the debut album Dark are all between five and a half and eight and a half minutes long, with the musicians fighting their way through tortuous sounding behemoths. Mars used to be known in the past for his harsh screams, but here he only uses them sparingly, alternating them with unusually melodic vocals. The screams are still top notch, you wonít find a lot of vocalists that can match his intensity, but the melodic singing is unfortunately a little on the hit and miss side. At times they work really well to deliver the suffering that goes with the music, but at other times he is overdoing it a little, resulting in sometimes shaky performances.

The songs are all quite good though. After having been active musicians for such a long time, these guys know how to craft melodies that will stay with you. The eight-minute-long opener Heartbroken Remembrance is already a good look at what Forge are about. Crawling doom patterns, distorted guitars, a pounding and rhythm section, all of this makes this track a remarkable entry point into an impressive debut album. The following Life Is Killing Me starts with a psychedelic guitar line, and later even elevates the pace into a bouncy up-tempo beat, although thatís rather the exception here. Scapegoat, the albumís longest track, juxtaposes a melancholic melodic part with an angry screamo rant, although it must be said that this is one of the places where about two minutes less would have benefitted the song. The lyrics are all utterly bleak, and you donít even need to listen closely to understand that Dark is a breakup album of the most desperate kind. The songs sound like a suite of symphonies about love gone awry, and that in a very bad way. One canít help feeling emotionally devastated after the hour is over.

While there are a lot of good things that must be said about Dark, there is unfortunately also some things that could have been improved. The melodic vocals still need some work, but also the production feels a little on the thin side, giving the album sometimes the impression of a demo. The drums should have more punch, and the guitar is too timid in the mix. One wonders if this had been a three or four track EP with the musicians spending more time on the mix, that this could have been so much more compact and to the point. Thatís hopefully for the next time. Until then, you have nine uncompromising doom epics from a band that may look like Luxembourgís answer to ZZ Top, but definitely sounds like no one else around today.

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