Review from Angry Metal Guy

Posted by Nick Skog on Friday, April 17, 2020 Under: English
From: Angry Metal Guy
Published: April 17, 2020

A hierophant – a word I was dimly aware of but confess that I had to look up – is a person who leads the religious into the presence of that which is deemed holy by the relevant congregation. It also a card in the tarot deck and at least one of its meanings is that of a teacher or counselor who aids the seeker in the acquisition of knowledge. Both of these meanings are wholly appropriate for Bay Area trio Forlesen’s debut, Hierophant Violent. I would estimate that, since beginning my tenure serfdom here at AMG, my musical consumption has increased by upwards of 80% and I was listening to a lot before I started. And yet it’s rare indeed that an album hits me like Hierophant Violent did.

Comprising only two tracks, each around the 18 minute mark, Forlesen bring together elements of drone, post- and ambient metal, epic doom, and a brief blast of black metal. All these elements are woven together with such skill, however, that, to quote the Steely One, “I’m blown away by how easy this album is to digest and enjoy.”1 Easing into being with a gentle, initially almost imperceptible, build of synths Forlesen are in absolutely no rush on first track, “Following Light.” Indeed, it’s fully three minutes before anything else happens and when it does, it’s the introduction of infinitely delicate female vocals, which reminded me more than anything else of the opening to the 2004 Battlestar Galactica theme. When, around minute 11, a gorgeously simple post-metal riff opens up, and clean male and female vocals harmonize and soar, it somehow feels simultaneously as though you waited an age for this and as though no time at all has passed.

That the band comprises two members of Lotus Thief should surprise no one, as Forlesen evoke for me a host of sounds, ranging from Dead Can Dance and Low, through Fos and Daxma to ISIS and beyond. Hierophant Violent is an album to get lost in and, where “Following Light” is mesmeric and atmospheric, “Nightbridge,” into which it seamlessly flows, is darker, brooding and, at times, violent. Time and again, it builds a breathless, oppressive intensity only to fall away again. Each listen, the beautifully uplifting riffs and almost-choral female vocals – delivered, I am pretty sure, by guitarist and bassist Bezaelith – carry me aloft before I am slammed back to earth, when guitarist Ascalaphus (I think!) enters the fray with a black metal rasp, and the track briefly descends into raw, stripped-back black metal in the vein of early Leviathan. As the two sounds then interweave, rising and falling around each other before Forlesen fall back into post-metal grandeur, it’s easy to lose track of quite how much time has passed.

In case it’s not already evident, I love this album. Although all three members of Forlesen are in other bands, with Ascalaphus and Bezaelith playing together in Lotus Thief and Botanist, this is still a stunningly cohesive debut. The guitars, bass and synths ebb and flow around each other, while the work behind the kit from Maleus, relatively sparing until the back half of “Nightbridge” though it is, never falls short of perfectly underscoring what Forlesen are doing. Hierophant Violent’s lush textures and moods, which meld and drift effortlessly together, sound gorgeous. The album feels full and rich, with every instrument allowed the room it needs to breathe. And when all instrumentation falls away, leaving Bezaelith’s stunning voice alone to sing “Here I stand before the nightbridge, here I leave behind this shell,” I am never less than enchanted.

‘Enchanting’ is actually about as close as I think I can get to conveying how I feel about Forlesen’s debut. The idea of being led by this, at times brvtally violent, hierophant appeals to me greatly and on each listen, I follow Hierophant Violent’s twisting rhythms and riffs like certain mythical rodents once pursued a mercenary flautist. Forlesen will undoubtedly occupy a spot on my year-end list and Hierophant Violent also has the – perhaps dubious – honor of being my first 4.5.

Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewed by: Carcharodon

In : English 

Tags: "forlesen" "forlesen hierophant violent" "lotus thief" "botanist band" "kayo dot" "palace of worms" "vesper moth" "nero order" 

 Released: April 18, 2020
Genre: Ambient / Doom / Black Metal