Forgotten Tomb - We Owe You Nothing - (8/10)
Published on November 8, 2017
Blackadder: Look, there’s no need to panic. Someone in the crew will know how to steer this thing.
Captain Rum: The crew, milord?
Blackadder: Yes, the crew.
Rum: What crew?
Blackadder: I was under the impression that it was common maritime practice for a ship to have a crew.
Rum: Opinion is divided on the subject.
Blackadder: Oh, really?
Rum: Yahs. All the other captains say it is; I say it isn’t.
(Blackadder II, Episode 3, “Potato”)
Probably my favourite comedic exchange of all time, sheer genius. Unfortunately though, in reviewing Forgotten Tomb’s ninth studio album, We Owe You Nothing, I find myself taking the role of Captain Rum (perhaps not for the first time – try telling a group of Melodic Rock fans that you think a Treat album is overrated). All the other reviewers say We Owe You Nothing is Blackened Doom or Black Metal, I say it isn’t.
Forgotten Tomb have their roots in Black Metal and the general consensus is that they’ve stayed close to them, but We Owe You Nothing owes far more to Death Metal than it’s Black cousin. For the most part, this is like Obituary decided to go ever so slightly doomy, play far longer songs and add even more groove to their sound. While we don’t have the trademark Obituary rhythm guitar sound, the vocals and the overall sound bear more than a passing resemblance. After this long-winded way to describe the particular heading that We Owe You Nothing should be filed under, the next, and probably far more important, question is whether it’s actually any good. Fortunately, the answer is most definitely yes…
The title track launches off with hugely catchy, groovy guitars that nod towards bands like Cathedral or maybe even Rocket From The Crypt. The vocals come in and it’s remarkably like John Tardy took a wrong turning on the way to the wrong recording studio. There is some variation in the vocals across the album, occasionally leaning more towards a Black Metal rasp and the spiteful Death Metal snarl in parts of “Saboteur”, but the Tardy-ness dominates. I’ll confess that haven’t heard a lot of Forgotten Tomb before this album, but it’s quite different from 2003’s outstanding Springtime Depression, when the Black Metal sound was far more prominent.
After the excellent title track, “Second Chances” maintains the good form and might be the most Obituary-like of all, at times I can’t help hearing the chorus to “I Don’t Care”. But it’s not plagiarism; there’s a lot more to the song, a faster section’s hint of Black Metal, some Doom/Death Metal riffing and a colossal dose of catchiness. It’s perhaps a little bit longer than it needs to be, but when the music is this good, to gripe seems churlish.
There’s something to admire in each track, such as the Paradise Lost-like riffing in “Saboteur”, the great contrast between acoustic and heavy in “Abandon Everything” and riffs that bring to mind the likes of Novembers Doom and Draconian in excellent closing track, “Black Overture”. All of this variety is welcome, but the songs do sometimes feel a bit drawn out, especially the slower and more monotonous “Longing For Decay”. Reviewing albums can be frustrating in that “I’m sure I’ve heard something like this before, but I can’t remember what it was” moments are all too frequent. The snarling in “Saboteur” is one such occasion and another comes in “Abandon Everything”; lead guitar that briefly induces déjà vu, but the earlier memory won’t reveal itself.
Although it has a couple of “I’m sure I’ve heard this bit before” moments and some of the songs could be slightly shorter, We Owe You Nothing is a really strong album. Almost every song is a winner, oozing with groove and catchiness. Hopefully existing fans of Forgotten Tomb will lap this up and they may win over some new ones too.