FORSMÁN – Dönsum Í Logans Ljóma (2021)REVIEW

The grey horse with backward-twisted hooves carries its victim unto woeful intended collapse through the cracks of a frozen lake, thawed enough by the dancing radiance of the black flame to entomb the ‘ready damned and drown their will away. A tribe of thumb-smudged grease painted bodies, a quartet of Icelandic corpses gathered the mouth of the abyss in Kópavogur circa early 2019 to stare downward at their rekindled memories and name themselves Forsmán. Readied without hesitation and in presentation of an apt study of modern Icelandic black metal ethos, their debut EP, ‘Dönsum Í Logans Ljóma‘, persists as an emotional outburst; The youth’s strangulated melodies convey destruction without complete power fantasy intended, angling all shattered minds unto dissonant melancholia. Though there are resolute moments that build here and there for the sake of contrast with pure dissociation, the experience is one of collapse into chaos and ruin — A fall from a high place, from false idolatry to the irretrievable dregs of disaster that inevitably follow.

Though their work is laser focused upon one very clear ideal that’d naturally suggest an insular Icelandic black metal point of view, this is for the sake of using an established musical language to convey an otherwise personal treatise on internal darkness. The dissolving spiritus of atmospheric black metal with heavily dissonant assemblage is perfect for the haunted interior that Forsmán illustrate with some considerable maturity therein, especially considering they are fairly young fellowes. Much of what ‘Dönsum Í Logans Ljóma’ presents is not inherently chaotic but again, melancholia driven to a fall with plenty of impressive maneuvering along the way to create interest as we trek towards disaster. “Falsgoð” could technically refer to something that is inherently meaningless though for the sake of adversity it’d read as the impunity that false idols enjoy long after ceasing relevance. The piece itself appears to feature two vocalists, one with a deeper-ranting register in the prime position and another with an almost death metal timbre, which is a brilliant touch that arrives upon some points of terrifying harmonization I’d love to hear more of. Some of this can be confirmed by watching what is essentially a complete live performance of the EP as a setlist for Norðanpaunk 2020, though they might’ve altered the complexity of the vocal interplay for the recording itself. This opening piece is an immediate triumph and enough of an opener to warrant digging into the fineries of their work here.

The major highlight and perhaps most obviate single, despite its seven minute length, from the full listen is undoubtedly “Milli Eilífdar Og Einskis”, for its memorable (guitar) neck-choking leads and the build-to-a-break into a post-hardcore riff at the ~2:40 minute mark. This moment is brief but important for establishing payoff for the melodic motif it fully states, the riff itself isn’t too far from what Enslaved were attempting in the early 2000’s with albums like ‘Below the Lights’ and ‘Isa’, of course this is in the context of distinctly Icelandic underground atmospheric black metal but the sentiment nonetheless lands in my ear squarely. The chosen single “Vonarglæta” does technically provide some of the more interesting post-black metal guitar moments which are a bit too ‘college rock’ for my taste at this point, the harmonic clash of this technique in the last third of the piece is yet impressive and I appreciate no riff is placed for naught even if I do get a whiff of modern metal from a few moments. It is a shame that Ascension didn’t happen in 2020 as it would have been an ideal vessel to show off the driven and well-rehearsed skill of these folks, they’ve been ambitious in lining up notable songwriting moments within black metal technique that lends itself to buried thoughts in the wrong hands. The clarity and guidance of Studio Emissary is of note here as well, capturing a realistic image of the band with some considerable presence given to guitar layers and setting drums, vocals and bass in descending appearance just as they’d likely strike the ear in person. The level of polish and performance here is impeccable as it should be without losing the distraught and descending nature Forsmán present, which is likewise conveyed in the fine cover artwork from polish artist Andrzej Masianis.

‘Dönsum Í Logans Ljóma’ is an appreciably complete statement that provides some manner of awe at all angles. Impressive for a band around two years into their development, yet there is a keen sense tingling in mind that they can do more to develop even more unique phrasing once the signature of their style develops clearly. As such the appeal of this recording is primarily a feast for the minds attuned to Icelandic black metal songcraft, and those seeking alternatives to cloying sweetness that still manage the ‘beauteous’ range of atmospheric and melodic black metal movements. Not a major outlier just yet but a solid record for my own taste. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (78/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Dönsum Í Logans Ljóma
LABEL(S):Ván Records
RELEASE DATE:April 9th, 2021
BUY:Ván Records Pre-Order
GENRE(S):Melodic Black Metal,
Atmospheric Black Metal

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