Review by: Meriel Longmore
Review score: 4/5
“Escaping the Abyss” is the debut release from UK band FORNOST ARNOR, it is also the first release for new label Witch King Records. Although this is the band’s first release, they have already had reasonable coverage in well-known publications such as Zero Tolerance magazine and it is easy to see why. It’s hard to believe this is a debut release due to its mature approach, technical precision, effective production and overall professional quality. Although the band name references J.R.R Tolkien, that’s as far as it goes, in fact the most obvious influences that may be heard when listening to “Escaping the Abyss” are OPETH and ENSLAVED. FORNOST ARNOR combine elements of Black Metal, Folk, Pagan Metal, Doom, Technical Death Metal and of course progressive extreme Metal.
The similarity to OPETH is striking, though it’s obvious FORNOST ARNOR have incorporated a myriad of influences into their sound due to the complexity of the eight epic compositions on offer here. The growled vocals are the element most reminiscent of OPETH plus there is also often a clean vocal present which is sung in the same style of delivery as OPETH but is perhaps slightly smoother and more melancholic than OPETH. There are also a few elements that FORNOST ARNOR use that will surely intrigue the listener. For example; “The Tragedy of Delusion” features some beautiful female vocals that compliment the harsher elements of the album. There are also some complex scales and solos present that strangely bring to mind bands such as RED CHORD, MORBID ANGEL, GOJIRA or perhaps DECAPITATED which surely adds interesting and unexpected twists, these elements also contrast nicely to folky acoustic passages and ensure that the attention is always well and truly grabbed. Musically, FORNOST ARNOR is also close to later ENSLAVED in terms of progressive song-writing, inspiration coming from the natural world, ice cold atmospheres and a strong sense of dark, turbulent emotion.
Overall this is a band that shows great promise having achieved such excellent results at such an early stage in their musical career. Make no mistake, this is one to watch and it would be no surprise if great success and respect greets FORNOST ARNOR in the near future. For fans of AGALLOCH, IRONWOOD, ENSLAVED, OPETH, later EMPEROR, INSOMNIUM, MOURNING BELOVETH, NOVEMBER’S DOOM, MORGION, RUSH, PINK FLOYD, MYRKGRAV, HELRITT, etc.