Angry Metal Guy’s Unsigned Band Rodeo: Forlorn Path – Man’s Last Portrait

In our new monthly feature, which will show up here on the 15th of every month and run over the next few days, I (Angry Metal Guy) will select 5 bands at random (usually those who have followed my directions and have bandcamp accounts) to get blurbed by every member of the AMG staff. The idea is to do at least a bit of our part to point out that the metal underground is still an important part of the world of metal. While we simply don’t have the manpower to produce regular reviews of unsigned bands, this is my attempt at a minor mea culpa if nothing else. So enjoy Angry Metal Guy’s Unsigned Band Rodeo and our third entry for April 2013: Forlorn Path!

Forlorn Path is a New Jersey extreme metal band that seems to have made a transformation from melodeath Swedish influenced stuff to symphony black metal of a doomy variety — reminiscent of bands like Novembers Doom or Agalloch at their slowest and most saturated. Mixed by Jens Bogren, this record was put out by just the two remaining members of the original lineup. The record is an hour in length, and one assumes that a Jens Bogren production job ain’t cheap, but it is available for free at Bandcamp and they have a pretty nice website you can visit to keep up with news about them and get links to their presence on the web.

Forlorn Path - Man's Last Portrait

Angry Metal GuyAt one hour long, Forlorn Path breaks Angry Metal Guy’s Rule of Underground Bands #23: “You’re not important enough to have a record that doesn’t fit on vinyl.” And the proof is in the pudding, here. Songs that drag, riffs that go on too long, and too much ‘atmosphere’ take music that’s supposed to heavy and make it sleepy and uninspiring. I dig the concept, the logo, the artwork and the general professional presentation — but unfortunately, I’m moss gazing within minutes. Some highlights here and there when they nail an old school My Dying Bride feel, for example, but not many. Man’s Last Portrait is also about as subtle as a jackhammer, as evidenced by the woman reading from Masque of the Red Death and the keyboards at the beginning of “As Hope Fades.” Makes my skin crawl in a bad way. 1.5/5.0

Steel DruhmOf all the selections, these bleak, black metallers from New Jersey are the only ones with an actual album and it’s fairly impressive in its professionalism and maturity. They play a doomy, depressing variant of blackness with symphonics and a buttload of weepy piano interludes and that’s all fine. However, they write such long, drawn out songs that they keep losing me. While I like their blend of AgallochMy Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, none of the songs held my interest past the three minute mark. Since most of their songs clock in around seven minutes, that’s a problem. There’s talent and potential here no doubt, but also way too much of the damn atmospherics! I get it, you’re depressed, but geez! I have three pieces of advice for them: tighten, shorten, trim! 2.5/5.0

Madam X: This melodic death/black outfit hit you much like a phantasmic waltz, with a nice tidy mixture of In Mourning epicness and a smattering of Ruin of Remembrance and Agalloch emotion. New and improved, New Jersey based Forlorn Path trimmed the fat, leaving the band with only two original members, them being Dave Imbriaco on vocals and bass and Yuriy Garnaev on guitars and in creative control. Vocals switch between brawny, deathly growls to core-ish screams that hit you with all cylinders and stand-out vocal moments have to be Dave’s screams in “Masquerade” and “Ghost”. Lyrically Man’s Last Portrait is an intoxicating and intelligent blend of heavy suffering, anguish, cold, loss of hope and condemnation. The album has a comfortable clean mix courtesy of Jens Bogren, and he’s not dropped the ball on this one either. You easily pick up on the hypnotic acoustic interludes, ambient keyboards and powerful guitar riffs, not forgetting the crushing rhythms of James Applegate’s studio drums. All in all a great first album, albeit a little lengthy on the back end. 3.0/5.0.

Fisting Andrew Golota: Forlorn Path plays doom metal of the bleakest, most depressing order. It’s pretty goth, and yes, keyboards are involved. Reminds me of My Dying Bride with more double-kick, and/or Novembers Doom at their most self-pitying. This is solid stuff for this genre, and worth checking out. 2.5/5.0

Happy Metal GuyHere’s some doomy, black metal with plenty of pissed-off, venomous snarls that will make your skin crawl. Symphonic elements creep in every now and then to contribute to the moody atmosphere, too. If you have been seeking emotional blackened doom metal in this lackluster year for metal so far, here it is. 3.5/5.0

Natalie Zed: While Forlorn Path has been described as a combination of melodic death metal and progressive, it’s a wistful, blackened sound that defines them even more than their aggressive drumming and scalding vocals. There’s an edge of Cascadian black metal and even some blackened folk in what they do that defines their sound. Rather than exploring the dark beauty of nature however, Forlorn Path steer towards the inner landscape, investigating the often hostile terrain of the mind. With deeps nods, even bows, towards bands like AgallochForlorn Path could certainly have chosen worse influences. While the record is a little bit uneven, it’s clear that Forlorn Path have a vision and concept they are working towards, and there are moments here between the wash of rain and shivering riffs that they reach it. 3.0/5.0 

Alex FranquelliNo matter what people say, it doesn’t matter whether the glass of water is half empty or half full, because what’s in the glass is and remains only water. And in the eternal struggle between optimism and pessimism, Forlorn Path stand right there in the metal goblet, oscillating vertically between the nihilist fumes of nihilism and the inebriating pheromones of a long-awaited comeback. More European than a Belgian Eurovision pop singer, this band from New Jersey seems to know their craft quite well. Nothing new, nothing bad and the album is free, so just grab it. 3.0/5.0

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