Well it’s estranged times for all of us but thankfully this has not stopped Italian outfit Forgotten Tomb from knocking up their tenth album, even if it does mean a planned tour with Vanhelga and Totalselfhatred (which I would have loved to have seen) is scuppered for the moment. This could well signify a new trilogy of albums after they put their last triptych to bed with 2017 release ‘We Owe You Nothing. This is defined by the band embracing a change stylistically in sound and production with the use of analogue and vintage equipment including many instruments from the early 80’s. It’s an intriguing idea and one to combat standardized methods rendering everything today sounding modern and sterile.

Perhaps you won’t notice this immediately as they swing into action in a familiar way on opener ‘Active Shooter’ hitting you straight between the ears with that bluesy death n’ roll style and the Wolverine growl from singer Herr Morbid. Growling and groovy, it swaggers away with power and force before easing down slightly and flirting with some airier fragrances, the total effect of the melodious beat sticking in your head from the very first listen. The rugged rocking rhythm here is totally compulsive and it will quickly find itself as your new favourite song, a great opening statement that intrinsically embraces the past with some DSBM tones amidst the blackened harmonious cleave, which has a bit of the classic sounding Satyricon both the band and the original Orgasmatronic song decadently wallowing amidst it all. I guess it does have a somewhat earthy feel to it too and the experimentation pays off with an honesty behind the recording that is hard to ignore. The album is comprised of 6 fairly lengthy numbers and next we get the first of 2-headed beast ‘Iris’ House Pt. I.’ A soulful guitar harmony tempers a doomier mindset, the weeping guitar clamour and spoken word adding plenty of atmosphere. Although no lyrics have been published we are told that things are misanthropic and that’s neither a surprise and even with the somewhat dour tone of the music we can tell the vocals are delivered with a certain amount of spite and bite over the thorny guitar structures, designed to pierce the skin. Some mournful and again bluesy guitar soloing clings to you like a limpet and again the song has loads of definition about it with thick bass tones and a sinuous temperament that is hard to dislodge. The second part of ‘Iris’ House’ has you wondering what foul deeds have taken place behind its somewhat ghastly walls as The Morbid one gasps and rasps and the guitar parts move between doom and disastrous ruin to gothic shimmering fronds. Sound is thick and predicament strikes as dire; horror dwells here for sure.

Something has worked for sure the 6 tracks at the halfway point making you feel the need to lovingly flip this over to the b-side on vinyl of which several versions will be available. Rotting and rolling ‘Distrust3’ ramps up the pace a bit and the song solidly bounces away with the incessant vocal snarls taking bloody bites out your ankles as you feel the urge to dance away to it. Some hammer smash blows crunch from drummer Asher and it’s a veritable steamroller of a track carrying huge weight even if not tumultuous speed. It’s the title track where you will really feel the caress of the analogue ideals though and something a bit different from the band which really sticks out. At just shy of 9 minutes of a compact 40 total it has that airy feel of a bird in flight gracefully swooping over its domain and surveying its kingdom. Yeah although not quite a famed Albatross of a number it has that vibe of being loose and free with gorgeous harmony and cliff top swooping elegance about it. Don’t expect clean vocal croons, they still persistently yap but there’s a total different feeling about this, one of progressive metal and with it Forgotten Tomb have what strikes as timeless tune to add to their burly armoury. Be prepared to be taken aback at first by this but it won’t be long before you are acclimatised and it all makes sense. Oh, to witness it live and coast along with good lights and a warm feeling flowing through your veins. Naturally it is counterpoised by the finale RBMK (nope not worked that out unless it refers to Soviet Nuclear Power reactors) a rambunctious full-blooded surge to conclusion the black clamour following at a gallop right to the end.

There’s plenty of substance here and loads to like. Forgotten Tomb have a cult following and have built it solidly up over the last couple of decades. Fans certainly won’t be disappointed with this dose of ‘Nihilistic Estrangement;’ an album for times of hateful, solitude indeed.

(8.5/10 Pete Woods)