Hot off the heels of their (extremely) recent Ogień przebudzenia, Graveland are back to…. wait, what the fuck? The promotional copy title says Woodtemple? Austrian, not Polish? DRUHMMMM!!!
Back for his fifth helping of Graveland-worship, Aramath’s one-man Woodtemple once again grapples with the concept of influence, and once again fails on the notion of innovation. Here, you will find a derivative and unspectacular record of Pagan black metal, covering all the obligatory bases: overly-excitable choirs, energetic tremolo-picking and raspy black vox. While there have always been moments which hint at better things in Woodtemple‘s discography, this record inclusive, Forgotten Pride continues an uninspired career trajectory.
But first, the positives. The ways in which Aramath does differentiate himself from Graveland are the better points of the record – a sign that carving your own path is undeniably superior to imitation. Aramath’s vocals are more hoarse and croaky than typically found: they recall Vreid to me, with greater pain and menace. The briefly layering harmonies with his shrieks and the choir near the start of “Sign Of The Sun” is a rare notable moment. Additionally, the drums are surprisingly intricate throughout. Where most one-man black metal projects subordinate drumming to standard blast beats, Forgotten Pride demonstrates an ear for rhythm, particularly on “Eternal Silence,” a (slightly out-of-place) drum-centric instrumental track. The drums are high in the mix, audibly above the guitars in places, which is rare for a very riff-orientated genre. Aramath uses a warm, real texture for the mastering, which is pleasing.
However, in every other facet of the record, Forgotten Pride is dry and imitative. If you listen to almost any Graveland record, you will be struck, first, by how similar this sounds to it, and second, by how much less interesting this is. I know Aramath has close ties to Graveland, but that really is no excuse – one can forgive a derivative sound on a début, but not five records deep. There has been no progression across Woodtemple‘s discography, save for the inclusion of superior session drummer, Asbath. Even taken on its own terms, Forgotten Pride is disappointingly forgettable. Discounting “Intro,” “Outro” and the discordant “Eternal Silence,” there are only three core tracks to consider, but none stand out and all blur together. Despite a Dynamic Range of 12, the guitars are difficult to distinguish, pushed to the back by the drums and vocals, and left to die by unimaginative song-writing.
Forgotten Pride is not downright bad, just utterly insipid. I painfully replayed the record to make an informed opinion, and the comparatively superior drums and vocals need to be taken in the context of an album which is otherwise devoid of character. If you haven’t previously been grabbed by Woodtemple, or even Graveland, there is nothing here which will change your mind. Forgotten Pride? More like Forgotten Instantly.