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Forgotten Dawn : Requiem For Mankind (Split with Frostland Tales)

Stark, bleak and appropriately devoid of any polish: Forgotten Dawn and Frostland Tales show their old-school roots.

Welcome to the wonderful world of solo Black/Doom projects from the Czech Republic: not exactly an over-subscribed field in the history of music. Nor an area in which information is particularly readily available, though that's not especially unusual for the often-mysterious souls dwelling in the hinterlands of extreme sound. I could semi-enlighten readers with the information that Forgotten Dawn (sole member P.) is an anarcho-pacifist project that believes music should be free for listening, downloading and sharing. Less enlightening, but splendidly oxymoronic, would be the personnel listing for Frostland Tales, which reads 'Nihil - everything'. And that would be about it for background, other than observing that 'Requiem For Mankind' is the sophomore work from both bands.

As for the album, it's freely available online for the moment, with a physical version to follow at some point, which might give some idea of the budgetary constraints involved in the recording and releasing process. I would suspect they come close enough to zero to make no difference, judging by the lo-fi production, which seems entirely genuine rather than deliberately dropping quality to emulate early Black Metal rawness. It suits the material, anyway, which is stark, bleak and appropriately devoid of any polish or relief: both bands, in their different ways, continuing to present that in the same vein as laid down by their respective debut works.

Forgotten Dawn take honours for the first half of the album, offering two slow-paced and grim works dominated by sharp-edged guitar and hoarsely blackened vocals. Presumably-programmed drums measure the pace, their slightly tinny sound a surprisingly good complement to the cold distance of the slightly-industrial sounding mix. It's not comfortable listening, but it is quite effective in painting a miserably fatal soundscape to match the equally nihilistic lyrics of futile struggle and death. The better of the two tracks, 'No Man's Land', touches on Funeral Doom territory with it's crawling, hypnotic, repetitive motif; 'Babylon Must Fall' displays more of a Black/Doom aggressiveness and uses a choppier, more varied tempo to deliver it.

By contrast, Frostland Tales follow up with a brace of drum-heavy assaults that sound rough as hell. If you thought 'Welcome To Hell' was hideously over-produced, this might be exactly your cup of tea: the raw, basic overlay of recording tracks, complete with traces of slippage and out-of-sync moments, is about as authentic a 'bedroom' feel as anyone could wish for. Despite which, it has a certain charm about it; from the enthusiastic percussion of instrumental 'Do Lesů A Do Hor' (To The Forests And The Mountains) to the croaking whispers of 'Ztracená Víra' (Losing Faith), it's clearly someone making their own music for the hell of it. And, for all the apparent technical issues with the first track, it's actually quite an infectious ride, and pleasantly unusual to hear real drums front and centre.

To find a suitable comparison for either band, you'd really have to look to the aesthetics of the original Atmospheric/Black spectrum - the slower parts of early Burzum, for example - rather than more typically histrionic or melodic contemporary Black/Doom. They're old-school, and blatantly so, with 'No Man's Land' the only track that even considers taking aboard a concession to post-millennial influences.

So, it's low-tech, behind-the-times stuff with more than a hint of corpse-painted Norwegians hanging about in woods to it. Which, in itself, is no bad thing: it's simply wearing its heart on its sleeve - and I can respect the stubborn unpretentiousness with which it does that. I can't imagine it's destined for a very wide audience, nor that it'll set anyone's world on fire if it does reach them, but nonetheless, kudos to both acts for making it on their own terms, anyway. Is that enough? Perhaps not, in the sense that there's little to make either band stand out from the many others which have travelled similar routes. On the other hand, taken for what it is, there's little to criticise them for either. If this is your sort of thing, it does the job well enough, and the split format offers a bit of extra variety along the way.

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Reviewer's rating: 6/10


Tracklist :
Forgotten Dawn
1. No Man's Land
2. Babylon Must Fall
Frostland Tales
3. Do Lesů A Do Hor
4. Ztracená Víra

Duration : Approx. 28 minutes

Visit the Forgotten Dawn bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-10-25 by Mike Liassides
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