With short, pointed song titles like “Wander”, “Abyss” and “Frozen’”(forget any thoughts you may have of a “Let It Go” cover!), you know exactly the kind of frigid, blackened ride you are embarking on with Seedna’s Forlorn. Yet once underway this Swedish slice of progressive black metal does pretty much everything imaginable except batter you with the noisier conventions of the genre. Instead, an emotional, soulful journey where moments of noise and the mid-register yowls you’d expect from a Black Metal record begins, jostling with haunting, muted soundscapes.
A lengthy, dramatic introduction is pretty much a given with these kind of proposals, but the stark strains and moody spoken words of “Hourglass” are positively concise in comparison to the sound collages that follow. When the boot does finally drop on the distortion pedal and we clatter into “Wander”, things – in the most elegant and stately way possible – do just that! The song finally weighs in at a whopping 22 minutes. This theme of grandiosity through melancholia continues throughout and at times Forlorn feels like an unused sound track album for a Silent Hill video game. If Akira Yamaoka got into black metal this is what he would sound like!
Seedna’s production on Forlorn is clattering and reverb soaked, evoking desolate highways and twilight forests with textural guitars sitting atop the low end rumble – it fits the mood perfectly. Often these kind of albums contain a rigidity of format that makes them feel like simply the output of someone’s PC, but Seenda feel like a band, showcasing gradients of tempo and dynamics that make the end result excitingly unpredictable. The only time this organic approach works against them is with their tendency to deploy the songs main motif only to then break it down into ambient sections, which can be a bit lengthy. Okay, very lengthy! Which is great – if you’re in the mood for good old brooding soundscapes – but at times Forlorn can feel a touch unfocussed, as on the aptly titled “Eternal”.
Forlorn doesn’t really challenge the progressive black metal template any more than similar propositions by bands like Lychgate, but what it does, it does with a high degree of artistic flair and musicianship. At the end of the day, what’s not to like when an album contains enough ideas, enough textural nuance and enough drama to get the average metal head lost inside it for a month. Close your eyes…. here we go. 7/10