Fornost Arnor – Escaping the Abyss

I’ve been following this band for a while and have to say that I was absolutely amazed when first listened to the samples of this album they have on their Myspace. I like to think these guys might open for Enslaved or Opeth one day, as they are very close to those bands musically, and I think it would be a great show.

Fornost Arnor successfully blends Black/Death Metal with acoustic elements, as Opeth does as well, so you can assume that the vocals are done in scream/growl manner with clean vocals mixed in. It should be noted, however, that this band is not a rip-off of Opeth/Enslaved bands, as they sound very new, fresh and interesting. Although this album has been released officially in 2009, I got my hands on this release recently and I was very happy.

I will not waste our time on historical facts about the band, as there are links below where you can find all that information about them. So let’s focus on the music.

Escaping the Abyss contains eight tracks with a total duration of over 50 minutes. Complex in structure, with many rhythm changes, vocal lines that flow from growls and screams to cleans, which could be done better, in my opinion, but I’m sure the guys will improve that aspect, as it’s obvious they posess great potential and there is for sure enough space for further progress. The music on Escaping the Abyss IS progressive, just in case those terms like Black/Death Metal, screams and growls scared you. The fact is that this album’s nucleus is in the Black Metal, but that doesn’t have to mean a thing until you don’t hear the music.

I Am Misery. The experienced listeners of Black Metal would say that the title of this song fits well with BM standards (don’t ask me why). And it starts like that, hits right ahead from the beginning. I would make a parallel with some of the works of recent Norwegian BM bands, but there’s not time for that, Fornost Arnor steps further and shows their talent for melody, in the shape of perfectly done guitar solo and for the first time clean vocals. Acoustic guitars are one of the best performed instruments in this track and that remains the same for the rest of the record.

A Trance of Madness. Is a trance of madness, a song that’s distinguished mostly with mid-tempo structure, I like the acoustics very much in this one, but I’m sure headbangers will find it interesting too, as there is a riffing work which goes well with that.

If The Trees Could Only Speak… First time I’ve heard this song, I thought it was pretty much done in a Satyricon style, especially the latter’s newer releases. At least the song’s beginning made me think that way, but then all comes to the right place, scream-clean vocals blending, as well as acoustic-electric guitars exchanges. This song is one of the pillars of the album

Her Face in the Water. It’s a ballad, hell yes. This band shows that they are not just a bunch of guys willing to nail you down with aggressive riffs and blast-beats, but to show that they know music. This song is adorned with very nice acoustic passages, and the clean vocals are done really well here.

Gravity Defied. If the previous song was in general calm piece that ends with nice acoustic (decomposing), this one starts to hit you right in the head from its beginning. The

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vocals are “where growls become screams”, strong riffing guitar work and interesting guitar harmonies above, discontinuous drum beats that go all over slow doomy parts to blastbeats, these are some of the highlights.

Strength of the Heart. Starts as a truly Black Metal track with all needed elements such, fast riff changes and scream vocals, a real homage to the best of this genre. The guitar solo that flows on this one is characteristic for a Death metal bands and as an another indicator of progressiveness, the ending part of this song brings another acoustic passage with an electric guitar solo over it and clean vocals. A good example how to make a song that contains Black, Death and Progressive elements in it.

Falling into the Arms of Sorrow. This is a short instrumental, an ambient and calm piece which opens the door for the final and longest track on the album. I will make a comparison with Opeth once again, just because I see this piece as what “Patterns in the Ivy” is for Opeth’s “Blackwater Park”, and everything fits well to that. Almost the same song lengths as well, but still different and very good.

The Tragedy of Delusion. Then, this is Fornost Arnor’s Blackwater Park (song). As I said above this is the longest track on the album and my favorite. Not because of its length (to avoid that kind of cliché), but because of its quality. Now you can guess that this song contains the best of all previous tracks, and you guess right. If you ask me how to describe The Tragedy of Delusion, I’ll simply say: well, it’s the very best of Escaping the Abyss. The only change, if I may say like that, on this song is the use of female vocals, which fit great with everything presented in this track.

The good thing about this album is that with every listening of it, you can find out some new element which will make you say WOW! Now, if I succeeded in making you interested in Fornost Arnor and their album, and if you like to experiment with variety of genres, you should really try this album. The best would be if you don’t have any expectations for this album and as a result of it, you will be amazed like me and say your first WOW to this band, and this great album.

Tracklist:

1.  I Am Misery
2.  A Trance of Madness
3.  If The Trees Could Only Speak
4.  Her Face in the Water
5.  Gravity Defied

6.  Strength of the Heart
7.  Falling into the Arms of Sorrow
8.  The Tragedy of Delusion

Line-up:

* Greg Chivers – vocals, guitar & acoustic guitar

* Will Hall – lead guitar

* Sam Austen – bass guitar & clean vocals

* Ant Deane – drums

Links:

Fornost Arnor @ MySpace

Fornost Arnor @ Facebook

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.
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