“Melancholic Gothic Doom Metal”. Never a description to warm the old cockles is it? In itself it’s a genre that can contain many variables…OK, it’s a fair guess it will be sparse on the optimistic/joyous/fun/hopeful side of things (sounds like how I remember my History lessons at school…), but there should be drama, power, emotion and darkness. And I’m happy (metaphorically of course, not physically, that just wouldn’t do!) to report that The Foreshadowing’s fourth offering has all of those four traits and more.
The band’s biography isn’t shy in naming a few bands that The Foreshadowing share similarities with – Paradise Lost, Moonspell, My Dying Bride and Katatonia are mentioned and to be fair are a given and almost to be expected, but Depeche Mode also get a name-check! I’ll concede there is maybe a little of them on parts of the vocal delivery, their tone and occasional melodies, but please don’t let comparisons like this (or Fields Of The Nephilim!??!) put you off. The Foreshadowing are a Metal band. There’s musical light and shade (OK, embers of light and shit-loads of dark, cloying shade), and always retaining that rumbling intensity that is so essential to their sound. “Seven Heads, Ten Horns” is a conceptual affair based around the trappings, omens and pitfalls of a unified Europe, how it may lead to greater hatred and bitterness within nations and it’s similarities to biblical themes. Certainly a topic that will find plenty of supporters in the bands native Italy, and…oh I don’t know…maybe Greece and Spain? Not sure it will be a hot seller in Germany…
On to the songs then, and once the reflective yet dynamic mandolin-led intro subsides we stride determinedly into the abyss to find ‘Fall Of Heroes’ waiting for us, which actually reminds me mostly of Amorphis (circa “Far From The Sun”), a similarity that crops up a few times as “Seven Heads Ten Horns” unfolds. There’s melody throughout the album, whether it’s from the generous use of lead guitar or the somber style vocals. I mentioned the slight Depecheyness of them, but there’s just as much Pasi Koskinen along with possibly the clean style of Dark Tranquility’s Mikael Stanne. The vocals stay within their lower/mid range melancholic parameters, which always brings its own sense of emotion. My personal favourite track is ‘Lost Soldiers’ where the band seem to lean firmly towards classic Gothic Metal with its Charon-esque vocals and melody lines, but there is plenty of memorable moments to like on this rich tapestry of gloom. A special mention has to go to the four part epic 14 minute closing track ‘Nimrod’ when the band cover all their darker moods and musicality to the full. There’s a great use of underlying layered choral vocals at times and all topped off with lyrics weighed down in drama and foreboding – delivered just how you would hope. Like studying four points of a compass in November on the Yorkshire Moors – every direction is greyer, darker, more unnerving and bleaker than the one before.
So obviously, “Seven Heads, Ten Horns” is no laugh-fest – it’s a possible soundtrack to a wet Sunday in Scunthorpe and probably more pertinent and useful than the UK governments guidelines for the upcoming referendum on whether the UK should stay or leave the E.U. But it is certainly expertly executed, packed full of dynamics and emotion and as well crafted as any other album in its genre. Four albums in and the Foreshadowing are going from strength to strength.
(7/10 Andy Barker)