Don't change a winning formula - A review of The Foreshadowing's Seven Heads Ten Horns
The Foreshadowing is undoubtedly the most immersive gothic doom metal band around these days. Since the band's formula works so efficiently, the Italian sextet almost didn't change anything about in on its fourth studio record. One could criticize the band for playing it safe but the band's high-quality consistency is so convincing that it would be difficult and even unreasonable to suggest the group to modify its unique trademark sound and to walk off the beaten path. Despite an overall great effort, this release is slightly less convincing than its three predecessors. This isn't due to a lack of innovation however but related to a weak album closer that represents a fourth of this release's running time. Even though it's the only track that falls off, its running time and position are so important that it has a rather important impact on the entire release. Ironically, the record's most experimental track in terms of running time and structure turns out to be its Achilles' heel.
Seven Heads Ten Horns is obviously an album that needs to be listened in a calm and isolated atmosphere to unfold its gloomy atmosphere. The nine new tracks also need some time to unfold and request multiple spins before they will be permanently stuck on your mind. This was also the case for the previous records and is typical for this atmospheric genre.
After numerous spins, two tracks really manage to stand out on an overall convincing effort. ''Two Horizons'' starts with melancholic and mournful guitar melodies before the verses build up a certain speed and energy carried by a superb drum play that is often underestimated in this band. The mixture between a more vivid rhythm section, mid-paced guitar patterns and slow vocals supported by melodramatic keyboard passages that add to the atmopshere instead of taking too much space works very well. The chorus slows things down a little bit and offers an enchanting and hypnotizing approach dominated by careful and thoughtful vocals where every note blends in perfectly with the nearly progressive instrumental work. This mellower refrain turns out to be rather catchy and creates an almost uplifting contrast to the more depressive and sorrowful verses. The track sounds perfectly balanced and represents The Foreshadowing's gothic soundscapes best on this record. Due to the addicting chorus, it's also the song with the greatest hit potential this band has written so far. Another outstanding effort is the quasi title track ''Seventeen'' that hits a very similar vein. The track starts with discordant guitar sounds before a thundering rhythm section sets in. The verses are vivid from an instrumental point of view while the vocals are as mysterious and soothing as ever. The chorus is very efficient once again and has a more epic touch with very melodic lead vocals that won't get out of your mind. The lyrical topic of the apocalypse has rarely sounded as enchanting as in this particularly devilish song. It almost sounds like the musical version of an uneasy yet appeasing opium trip. The Foreshadowing offers sweet pain as drugs for your ears.
The only slight disappointment on this strong album is the closing epic ''Nimrod'' which is separated into four distinctive parts. While these parts work well enough on their own, they don't quite fit together. This song sounds less coherent and fluid than the other tunes and in the case of a band that mostly relies on an immersive atmosphere, these slight disturbances are enough to get the listener out of the universe this song attempts to create. In the end, the band was probably a little bit overambitious to end this album with a track with a running time above fourteen minutes. Less would have been so much more in this case because the final result feels both stretched yet unfinished and doesn't represent the band's usual efficiency and precision we have gotten used to.
In the end, Seven Heads Ten Horns is another great gothic doom metal output by The Foreshadowing. It's not an essential album and I personally liked the three predecessors slightly better. However, both gothic and doom metal fans should get this album because even The Foreshadowing's least convincing studio album to date is still far stronger than what similar bands have to offer in general. On the other side, occasional and new fans are recommended to start their journey with one of the group's first three outputs.
Final rating: 78%« 2017 Formula One season preview Acoustic, folk and jazz tones enrich melodic metal - A review of Amorphis' ''An Evening with Friends at Huvila'' »
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