Forgotten Tomb aren’t new to black metal and they’re a dish best served cold. Following the disbandment of his earlier project (Sacrater), Ferdinando “Herr Morbid” Marchisio masterminded what we now know as Italy’s Forgotten Tomb. His earlier releases were that of a pretty destructive mind, making them downright scarring and two of the rawest and darkest offerings of the band. I use the term “band” loosely, because in the early days of Forgotten Tomb, they weren’t much more than a lowly one-man black metal project. Their next release (Love’s Burial Ground) saw the addition of a bassist, drummer and guitarist and the beginnings of an improved act. With the injection of this new blood they reached the turning point that set Forgotten Tomb on the slow meander towards a more digestible brand of depressive, blackened doom metal. And here we are, it’s 2015 and Forgotten Tomb are back and set to release their eighth full-lengh. I’ll admit it, I anticipated this one… a lot.
After spending more than a week spinning little more than Hurt Yourself And the Ones You Love it’s painfully obvious that the album contains little in the way of surprises and in fact, it feels as though it was put together in a mechanical, dare I say assembly line fashion. Despite appropriately shocking album art, a sobering album title, track titles like “Bad Dreams Come True” and “Soulless Upheavel,” the album makes no impact and often comes across as too sterile to deliver the kind of emotional pain and suffering that Forgotten Tomb piled on in their early albums – Hurt Yourself And the Ones You Love hurts Forgotten Tomb more than it hurts the listener.
Of the seven tracks on offer, “King of the Undesirables,” “Bad Dreams Come True” and “Swallow the Void” are the three I keep coming back to. “King of the Undesirables” has a taster of Pantera-like vulgarity and aggression along with some invitingly catchy interplay and shifts between the bass, drums and guitars. “Bad Dreams Come True” hits like a doom laden sledgehammer coming at you remarkably hard and fast, it’s Herr Morbid’s puking regurgitations, his Kvarforth-like over-the-top vocal prowess shall we say, that makes this track the nightmare it is and that keeps me coming back to it – even more so being that I’m waiting (razor blades at the ready) for Shining‘s new release!
And lastly, “Swallow the Void” wanders in dazed and confused. Is it Forgotten Tomb‘s retelling of the tale behind The Nothing? Tormenting, somber, down-tuned melody, sparsely picked guitars, ambient noise seeping into your bones like the cold; if you enjoyed “Springtime Depression” you’ll enjoy this one too. This track would have made a great opening to the album, but tacked onto the end and exceeding the 3:33 mark, it feels out-of-place. And once you’ve reached this point, you’ll know for sure that Forgotten Tomb have done away with the gothic sounding clean vocals of … And Don’t Deliver Us From Evil‘s “Adrift” which saddens me a bunch.
If you’re scrambling around looking for hooks and big moments in the remainder of Hurt Yourself And the Ones You Love, there’s some interesting vocal duelling in the title track, more spitting vocal theatrics in “Dread the Sundown” and the amped up breathless claustrophobia in “Mislead the Snakes” that bears similarities to Springtime Depression‘s “Scars.” The rest of the album is by no means bad, it’s just drowning in polish, new production techniques and melodies recycled from the likes of Shining and Forgotten Tomb‘s own earlier work.
There’s nothing fresh here, so If you’re new to Forgotten Tomb‘s sound, root around in their earlier catalogue for their more damaging works. Alternatively, if you like your black metal doomy with Benefiber for easy digestion, check out … And Don’t Deliver Us From Evil or better yet, Under Saturn Retrograde and Negative Megalomania.