Variety is the spice of life, as the old saying goes. This goes double in music. My favorite bands are those able to perform many variations on a style without losing their sense of identity. To me, it is one of the key features of good songwriting, especially considering the myriad of ways to make songs stand apart from each other. Using different tempos, introducing secondary instruments, changing style of vocals or inviting guest singers, I could go on and on about the many devices by which a band can break the bonds of monotony. And maybe I should, just in case Cataleptic read this review.

Forward contains over 50 minutes of death doom split over 4 tracks, the closer being 22 soul-crushing minutes long. I can feel some of you flinching at the concept, and with good reason. The amount of bands able to pull off songs of such girth is minimal, especially compared to the amount of bands that try. It takes a master songwriter to keep the attention span taut for a long uninterrupted time, and Cataleptic don’t make that cut. Where most bands would attempt to spice up such lengthy tracks with variety and song-craft, Forward displays command of only a handful of chord progressions and lacks sorely in the surprise department. Any good ideas are retread and retread until but a lifeless husk remains. All of the songs are too long, especially that mammoth of a closer. I’ve tried several times, but my attention would not hold more than the first two songs despite my best efforts. It was enough to make me dread listening to it again after the first two spins, a phenomenon I did not experience even when reviewing some of my 1-star platters.

That’s a sad statement to make because at least superficially, the sound these guys produce is quite alright. The commanding growl, which borders on sludge, is raw and savage. The guitar work is quite simple but effective enough, and here and there some good riffs pop up. The drums are likewise effective on the surface, though not far beyond that. “Grave Peril” is the best track and sometimes you can feel a higher level of songwriting trying to wrestle through the smog. When the overlong dirge section in the middle shifts into hyper-drive it’s like the sun breaking through the clouds, not because it’s faster but because it’s not more of the same.

But it’s not a good sign when a caveat joins each accolade. The vocals have a good sound, but the delivery is flat and monotonous, without much variation on the perpetual loud roar. Going full blast can be, well, a blast, but using this mode for every sentence, punctuating them in maximum overdrive, gets tiring fast. So do the guitars; while they perk up sometimes, in the absence of more interesting material they chug along in uninspired fashion, feeling obligatory more than passionate. The production is predictably dense and as dynamic as asphalt, which doesn’t help the album sound like anything more than a slog through a swamp.

Variety is the spice of life, but Cataleptic don’t seem to have heard that adage. Jogging across salt flats would provide more diversity than listening to Forward. While some of it is bearable in small doses, even the shortest track crosses that line several times over. The vocals plow like an earthquake but are as mobile as tectonic plates. The bad riffs stick around too long and the good ones manually create equine paste. It doesn’t stink like something septic and won’t make me apoplectic, but this joyless slog leaves me narcoleptic and, indeed, cataleptic.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Archaic Sound
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 1st, 2017

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  • Reese Burns

    I’ve found that AMG is almost 100% reliable for reviews, but I find that more often than not, I disagree with the scores given to doom metal records. This sounds fantastic to me, and a while back, Bell Witch got the same score and ended up being one of my albums of the year, so I’m still eager to pick this one up.

    • AndySynn

      Bell Witch got a two?

      Well, hot damn, I picked that as one of THE key records of 2015!

      • Reese Burns

        Yeah, two of my favourite albums from 2015 got low scores, Four Phantoms and The Ride Majestic both got poor scores.

        • GardensTale

          Can’t account for any objectivity around here these days.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    I thought peri-peri was the spice of life but I guess a little variety never hurt.

    • GardensTale

      Dude, AdmiralBrilliantFailure, you didn’t even bastardize my username, are you okay?

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        Thought I’d spruce things up a little. Because, you know, variety is the spice of life, my little GranolaBar

  • Goldicot

    That dude on the far right has the best neckbeard of all time.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    So, manually creating equine paste is like beating a dead horse… to a pulp?

    • GardensTale

      Ding ding ding!

  • HairyToeKnuckles

    Why is it that shitty font/logo choices = shitty music? Is it because they can’t afford to hire someone to do it for them? They just end up making it in Windows Office Picture Manager; such as this band.

    You can’t judge a book/album by its cover my ass.


  • hubcapiv

    Cataleptic…so it’s not just a clever name, huh?

  • SegaGenitals

    I dig this album art.

    • GardensTale

      I agree, it’s the best thing about this record. Like Vincent van Gogh going through a fire-and-brimstone phase after picking up horseback riding.

  • Schmitzel

    The music may be boring, but the review is pure gold. Thanks GT!

    This is the part I hate about AMG in general, you make me suffer through bad embedded music just to read the excellent reviews.

    • We all must suffer for art.

    • GardensTale

      The REALLY bad music can be entertaining in its own right. Sort of like a ‘smell my finger’ scenario. But this is too meh to qualify for that.