Review: Forever Dawn – The Long Journey Home
From the man known around the world as the Vegan Black Metal Chef comes a one man industrial black metal project. Forever Dawn is ambitious as it is intriguing, and fans of the genre will find a lot to love.
With a synth fade in, ‘maelstrom’ kicks into full black metal bliss with demonic vocals, heavy riffs, and thundering drums. The symphonic elements of the synths give the song a deep, haunting atmosphere, while moments of white noise slipping through the background gives the listener the feeling that something demonic is watching, while the overall feeling is as if you’re taking a ghostly ride through the night sky.
Decidedly industrial ‘Man Made Machine’ relies heavily on blast beats and shredding rhythm guitars, while alarm-like synths inspire visions of machines coming to life and marching against its creators. A brooding vocal delivery and gloomy lyrics of man’s downfall from its own failure to evolve make for a delightfully dark song that fits well with its industrial elements. Two tracks in and Forever Dawn is going strong.
‘The Immensity of Darkness’ picks up where ‘Man Made Machine’ left off lyrically. Again, Manowitz speaks down on modern human society and its lust for immortality that can only be obtained through a soulless machine. Once more, the synths play a prominent role at the forefront and in the background, providing a dark science-fiction atmosphere over the melodic guitars and steady drum beat.
‘Final Stand’ is the strongest song thus far. The synths have a heroic appeal that helps separate this track from the rest of the album. The guitar and drums are less prominent here, blending more so with the synths than stand apart. The most prominent element of this song is the lyrical content, which tells a story of self-sacrifice for the good of a cause in a time of war or revolution. Lyrics such as “this noble cause we take upon us. We walk the line unto the glorious end,” and “One by one, the old system crumbles. One by one this paradigm dies. The new times will rise. The new times will rise, forever more,” resonates deeply, especially when the guitars and drums kick up the aggression toward the end of the song, as if the battle is in full swing and victory is at hand.
With a strong symphonic opening, ‘Tales of our Tribe’ carries on with the heroic feel of the ‘Final Stand’ as if the victory has been won and the song is the aftermath of the battle. It would seem at this point that the album is a concept, especially with lyrics touching on very similar subjects. Regardless, the music has a very medieval feel to it with orchestral arrangements playing over a heavy guitar and pounding drums. Once more, the lyrics are captivating making for a powerful song that only increases in intensity once the double bass pedal begins rumbling midway through, while blast beats, thrashy guitars, and a haunting choir-like synth takes control in the final minute. This track is where the black metal style truly shines through.
Defined by shredding guitars, pounding blast beats, haunting choirs, and fast industrial beats, ‘Sirens Call’ is easily the most brutal song on the album. Though it has a great deal of black metal character, the industrial elements dominate this track and have more of a club feel than heavy metal.
Driven by rapid double bass drums, precise drumming, fast picking guitars, and a beautiful arrangement of a piano, choir, and orchestral arrangements layered in the background, ‘The Long Journey Home’ is the purest black metal song on the entire album, so far. The beat is fast, the distortion heavy, and the synths are as beautiful as the effects are terrifying. Truly, this is song is like taking a sky dive into hell.
Following the hellish sky dive that was ‘The Long Journey Home,’ we’re greeted to the realm of infernal suffering by ‘Blood for the Blood God.’ Blacker than anything prior, this track is characterized by blast beats, fast picking, and heavy distortion. Synths are mostly reduced to atmospheric effects allowing for the guitars and drums to wield command, making for the heaviest song yet. At this point, there seems to be a formula, for each song seems to be getting heavier and better arranged than the last.
As the name implies, ‘Breath of the Dying Man’ is the darkest song on the album. The guitars and synths are melancholy, downtrodden breathing and the gentle wash of the ocean can be heard giving a depressing atmosphere before giving way to a heavy rhythm. Lyrically, the song touches on the inevitability of death and the thoughts a dying person might have in regards to their life. Was it lived fully or was it wasted? What comes after death? Will there be new life or does it simply end? Certainly a moving song, ‘Breath of the Dying Man’ finishes strong with the same melancholy clean guitar, downtrodden breathing, and gentle wash of the waves as if to signify death.
‘At the Gates of Discipleship’ carries on the melancholy spirits of ‘Breath of Dying Man’. The lyrics touch on the choices we make in life – to evolve as a person or remain the same. Musically, it sticks to the formula firmly established earlier with heavy riffing and drums, atmospheric synths, but then there’s something straight out of left field – a guitar solo. Guitar solos have been completely absent to this point, thus surprising inclusion of this heavy metal staple adds new depth to the album and greatly adds to the song.
Taking the epic high road to any album finisher is oftentimes the best way to go and Forever Dawn does not disappoint with ‘Channeling the Infinite’. Epic synths are at the forefront, while reserved drums and guitars play their role in the background until a mid-song transition switches the batting order for a short while. In this short period, the drums become heavier and the guitar melodic, while the synths take the backseat. Synths take back their prominence for much of the remainder of the song until the last thirty seconds, when one last transition allows for the guitars and drums to unleash their brutality bringing the album to a strong finish.
At first, blending black metal with industrial sounds like a bizarre concept, but Forever Dawn proves its worth. After listening to the full album a few times through, ‘The Long Journey Home’ isn’t a black metal masterpiece. It’s certainly a powerful piece of work from a man passionate about the genre, but there’s definitely some room to grow. That being said, Forever Dawn has made a damn good debut and we look forward to the sophomore effort. 8/10