Doom is an entirely different animal than the rest of metal’s sub-genres. Its oppressive heaviness isn’t delivered through constant, mind-bending noise, but is given through slow, astoundingly crushing chords strummed over and over again for upwards of ten minutes. It is something which can be described as both beauty and the beast. Doom can be unrivaled in terms of emotional throughput and melodies, but can also be so dark and depressing it is hardly bearable to listen to. The child of solitude and grief, many doom bands play some of the thickest music in the metal genre. The experience is something to marvel at, and if the band can do it right, can change your musical tastes for good.
Russia’s Forest Stream is one such band, except they take the elements of doom and combine them with the likes of symphonic black metal and a hint of gothic metal and progressive. It’s a combination which sounds so obviously good and is executed in a nearly perfect fashion you end up wondering why more band’s don’t attempt to sound like it. Think early Katatonia, in the vein of Dance Of December Souls
, add better vocals, more guitar riffs and keyboards, and a cleaner production and you have something like what the ominously titled Tears Of Mortal Solitude
sounds like. There are so many bands out there which come close, hovering around what Forest Stream play, but none I have heard play it with such attention to detail as this. Along with Katatonia, bands like In The Woods…, My Dying Bride, and Novembre come to mind.
After listening to an album like Dance Of December Souls
and feeling the plethora of emotions literally dripping from that album, it made me more accustom to what bands of this caliber are capable of doing to a listener, especially one who approaches this album with an open mind. When Tears Of Mortal Solitude
began to spin, and the music began to flood out of the speakers, I had the same feelings I had while listening to Dance Of December Souls
, except this time multiplied. The abundance of acoustic guitar melodies and transitions, the bleak and depressing atmosphere of each and every song, it’s something which is hard to appreciate for someone who does not have a very, very open mind while listening. You have to want to be able to appreciate it; you can’t just go in expecting to do so. The album is long, slow, and depressing as hell. Seventy minutes of progressively slower songs takes its toll, but somehow this album manages to remain easy to listen to in one sitting. The music melts away with the minutes on the clock.
It’s apparent with each passing song that the mood of the album drastically plummets from an angry rage to a depressive low, and the difference in both tempo and mood is vastly different between “Legend” and “Winter Solstice”. The guitars are faster and heavier (in their own right) at the beginning, with limited interruptions for acoustic guitars or grandiose symphonies. It drags you down into the darkness, so to speak. Melodies still ensue during each respective song, the only thing which changes is the methods in which they are presented. Melodies in “Snowfall” are slow, very deep and profound, utilizing the crystal clear production to put them at the forefront of the song, while the main riffs in “Last Season Purity” aren’t quite as deliberately melodic and more subtle in their ways. The whole album is complex in its patterns of changing between a dead-stop doom metal to a furious black metal tone, but these changes are handled so masterfully that it is unlikely for the listener to become frustrated by the changes of pace, especially during songs like “Legend”, “Last Season Purity”, and “Mel Kor”, which take their influences more from the black metal side of the band, while songs like “Snowfall”, “Whole”, “Black Swans”, and “Winter Solstice” take a vastly different, and usually more interesting path down the winding, steep road of depressive doom metal. The vocal department helps emphasize these transitions, with the deep, guttural growls being more present in the faster tracks and taking a back seat to the instruments in the other songs, being more like an effect in the distance than one of the main focal points of the album. It is a technique which blends masterfully with the music itself, since the vocals never try to steal the show, something I’m sure most listeners will be thankful for, considering the sheer quality of the songwriting here.
To keep a listener fully and completely helplessly engrossed in your music for a twelve and a half minute song is quite a task, but it takes place during “Last Season Purity”, and also happens to a lesser extent in “Black Swans” and “Snowfall”. Overlapping keyboards, far-off guitar leads, and the sneer of clean vocals and the quiet essence of whispers is an essential part to most of the songs here, and it’s obvious that atmosphere was of the utmost concern for the members of Forest Stream. If you thought that Dance Of December Souls
was a depressing album considering all of the melody which filled it, your jaw will drop to the floor when Tears Of Mortal Solitude
comes to it’s bitter, heart-wrenching close as the oppressive keyboards of “Steps Of Mankind” find their way into your ears.
Call it pretentious, I don’t care. There is simply no other way of describing this album, simply because this is exactly what Forest Stream meant to do here. They want to show that music is often more than just a set of notes with a defined beginning and a set end. This is a way of expression, a way of taking the mind places which would otherwise be impossible to reach. Tears Of Mortal Solitude
is a debut album from one of the most promising bands I have heard in a while. It is a unique experience which takes the right person and the right moment to make it’s full mark, but when it does, it will leave a scar to remind you for the rest of your life the time when Tears Of Mortal Solitude
did what the band intended it to do. Last.