Forlesen – Hierophant Violent (Review)

Forlesen - Hierophant ViolentForlesen are from the US and play doom. This is their debut album.

There are only two lengthy tracks on this album, but with a total duration of 36 minutes, that matters not. The band members in Forlesen have a lot of experience with atypical music, as they play in a variety of bands such as Lotus Thief, Kayo Dot, Botanist, Maudlin of the Well, Nero Order, Palace of Worms, and Vesper Moth.

Forlesen play a non-standard form of long-form music that incorporates elements of post-rock, psychedelia, doom, and ambient, as well as some aspects of black metal in the second song. Combined together into these involving and engaging tracks, these influences work collectively to produce immersive and experiential explorations of feeling and emotion. The hypnotic and textured music builds layered atmosphere with ease. Dark and expressive, the aim of these two songs is to evoke emotive reactions from the listener, and in this they succeed amiably.

Following Light is a slow-building monolith of soft ambience that gradually crests to an emotive apogee. Clean singing is beautifully delivered, while low-in-the-mix howls provide an effective juxtaposition. For the last few minutes the song reaches a post-rock climax, tying the various parts of the track together into a fitting and satisfying conclusion.

The second track – Nightbridge – has a more ominous undercurrent than its predecessor. A ritualistic start to the song doubles down on itself as percussion starts and slowly becomes more unhinged, only to die off as unexpectedly as it began. Eventually the music blossoms into an eruption of rich doom, performed in a way that’s remarkably beautiful and affecting. And then, suddenly, a savage black metal interlude that should feel completely out of place, but doesn’t as it’s subtly tied into what came before by lighter background vocals and music. This turns into upbeat blackened doom metal reminiscent of something Déhà might do. A Neurosis-esque winding-down finish brings both the song and the album to a close, and I’m impressed and hungry for more. Time to play it again.

Containing two complete worlds in a little over half an hour, Hierophant Violent is a compelling example of distinctive, idiosyncratic music played with skill and passion. This album is quite an experience, one which I greatly recommend all to have.

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