FORN  The Departure of Consciousness  LP   (Vendetta)   17.99

At last got around to stocking this impressive recent album from Boston's Forn, now that it’s gotten a second pressing (sans the striking obi band that wrapped around the jacket for the first edition of the LP). This album has been steadily amassing accolades from both press and purchasers since coming out a few years ago, due to its powerful, punishing expression of atmospheric doom metal, delivering a six-song set of glacial gloom and scorched-earth ambience that blends together with just the right amount of grinding industrial-tinged soundscapery to transport this music into an upper echelon of sonic dread. Balancing stark beauty in one hand and incredible ugliness in the other, this really drags you down into a state of exquisite melancholy that's hard to beat. And when they flip the switch in grisly ultra-doom, it feels like cave walls crumbling down around you.

The album's intro track is entirely instrumental, weaving grating factory-rumble loops around swells of severely downtuned guitar and enshrouding it all in a heavy black fog of end-time dread, but it's the second song "Dweller On The Threshold" that really bulldozes across your soul, with a massive gravitational pull emanating from the band's massive guitar tone and the stomping, violent power of the rhythm section as they lumber through these black fogbanks, heavy enough to rival any other new doom metal album that came out at the time, but with those stately guitar melodies that they weave and wind around the imposing slo-mo heaviosity. That guitar work really towers over this album, unfurling twin guitar harmonies and demented licks that puts 'em in a similar league as the likes of Thou, Asunder and Samothrace, as point of comparison. But Forn also incorporate more of a black metal influence throughout this record as well, with the songs sometimes rupturing into violent blackened riffery and gales of frostbitten blast beats that flash by in a blizzard-blur of speed and ice, injecting some nicely-done dynamics into their crushing torpor. The vocals are a special kind of filthy, as well, impossibly deep, reverberant low growls that sound like an inhuman presence emanating from deep inside an abandoned mine, only to suddenly change into a scouring high-pitched shriek that throws everything into a panic. It's all really immense, insanely oppressive stuff that gazes into the void, surrounded by susurrant sighs and coldly gleaming starlight. Tracks like "Gates Of The Astral Plane" couple utterly bone-rattling low-end rumble with more of the elegiac arrangements that prove to be an essential ingredient of Forn's sound, along with a tendency towards strange time changes and painfully abrupt tempo shifts. And the plaintive, Godspeed You Black Emperor-esque passages of fragile minor-key guitar and somber, laid-back despondent instrumental stretches on tracks like "Suffering In The Eternal Void" and the brief respite of “Cerebral Intermission“ that erupt into titanic dirge are also all quite moving, grand and cinematic as they drift delicately between the plate-grinding tectonic tremors. Deserving of the attention that this album has been getting since its release.

Gorgeously macabre illustrations from Natures Mortes imbue this with added power.