Disenfranchised by the feigned niceties and depravity of the world around him, the fictional author and main character Dultan was created by Joris-Karl Huysmans as a sort of avatar of himself in ‘Là-bas’ (1891) as a civil servant living a fairly isolated social life. Of the four novels to feature Dultan each would count towards the writer’s last four works before dying of cancer in 1907. Difficult to translate due to his complex and verbose writing style full of snide double-entendre and biting satire Huysmans would ideally be remembered as a sort of Melville among the French decadent period but his prose in ‘Là-bas’ is best recalled for it’s conclusion. The protagonist systematically discovers a secret Satanic society through interest in medieval times and the novel ends with a reading of the black mass which would be quoted directly in its original French for Anton LaVey‘s ‘The Satanic Rituals’ (1972). Named for the rites of the black mass (‘I.N.D.N.S.L.E.’) but themed with Lucifer’s damnation and the resulting effects upon humanity, Sicilian blackened funeral doom metal band Fordomth‘s debut full-length echoes back to the deepest recesses of extreme doom metal in service to the fallen one and those who can relate.
“In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas Luciferi Excelsi…” is not simply invocation but also worship, a statement of service. Fordomth section the descent and damnation of Lucifer from heaven unto Hell not as fantasy lore but as spiritual guidance for those of the Satanic faith. Damnation when seen as a reality shared by all is not necessarily a shared ‘virtue’ or a symbol of pride but a common strife faced by those who would fall under the gaze of insidious Christian prosecution. Without lyrics I largely focused on the atmospheric values and instrumentation of ‘I.N.D.N.S.L.E.’ but the concept was no less interesting as an idea. Beyond this path of Satan experienced first hand comes a full hour of funeral doom metal in five parts from hell’s abyss unto damnation, then invocation.
Some extra emphasis upon damnation comes thanks to the epic 25 minute “Chapter III – Eternal Damnation” which shows a shared love for the best of Evoken‘s lead guitar work along with the stark sound and pacing of Longing For Dawn‘s ‘One Lonely Path’. Although the band cites legends Catacombs and Nortt as inspiration their sound invokes a nearly gothic atmosphere without any major focus on the guitar-driven heaviness of bands like Shape of Despair or Mournful Congregation; The result is somewhere in between the romantic excess of Thergothon‘s LP and the jangling ambiance of early Fungoid Stream. Foreboding in its excessive depths but cathartic within finer guitar work, Fordomth‘s arrangements hold together by the grace of the patience of the listener and while the hour is entertaining I do not see any meaning in the inclusion of “Interlude”. The real heft of the album is entirely front-loaded and the final sixteen or so minutes that conclude the album do not add incredible value outside of stringing along the strong atmosphere of the record.
“Chapter II – Abyss of Hell” and the aforementioned “Chapter III – Eternal Damnation” are more or less a filler free record unto themselves and will be the bulk of what carries the average funeral doom metal fan’s interest. These two pieces embody what it is to create heaviness with atmospheric values and ominous compositions without the need to bludgeon the listener with an huge and bulbous guitar tone. Much of the heat felt off of Fordomth in action comes from the vocal performances which range from clean work, to death growls and occasional depressive black metal shrieks. It works as an immersive experience and is ‘over the top’ in just the right way for a truly extreme doom metal record. Though I say this more often the more I engage with experimental doom projects, I do feel like this would be the sort of weird doom monster that a label like Wild Rags would license on tape had it come out in the early-to-mid 1990’s.
Among the best albums released in November and perhaps among the best funeral doom metal related projects of 2018, I can easily recommend Fordomth‘s debut. A compelling enough theme and a very well realized atmospheric extreme doom metal sound might lack gigantic riffs or enough black (or death) metal appeal for some but ultimately I believe this will grow strong within the mind of a funeral doom head as it did in my own experience. For preview I’d suggest either Chapter II for an idea of the record’s overall fidelity and slightly lo-fi sound and Chapter III for a representative sample of Fordomth‘s sound. Ultimately Chapter V, (the title track) finds the band at their best and I hope for more of this style of death/doom going forward.
Weary of facile intimacies. 4.0/5.0
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