Fornost Arnor burst onto the scene towards the end of 2009 with the release of their debut album, “Escaping the Abyss”, on their own Witch-King label, which made our Top 10 Albums of 2009! The progressive metal band take influences from all corners of the metal spectrum but the early black metal and death metal undertones are the clearest of these. Obvious comparisons have been drawn with the style and structure of Opeth but Fornost Arnor is no copycat band, they deliver a slice of formidable and original progressive metal. So, how does their second full-length offering “The Death Of A Rose”, once again produced by Sam Wale (Elimination, Imperial Vengeance, Orion), fare after the rave reviews of “Escaping The Abyss”?
The vocal exchanges at the beginning of ‘Rogue’, between Elle Torry and Sam Austen, with their acoustic accompaniment, are in marked contrast to the fury of its predecessor but still with a distinctive Fornost Arnor feel to it. It’s not until three minutes in that the fury is unleashed, as the vocals of Greg Chivers and the full band launch its opening salvo, taking the aural journey into deeper, darker places. ‘Nameless Fear’ and ‘Path Marked Unknown’ both explode from the start, the full fury of Fornost Arnor is set free, yet still with strong melody and purpose. As is now compulsory, the tracks follow a meandering path of highs and lows, even sometimes coming to a stop before continuing along completely different path.
‘Lady Heresy’ returns to an acoustic flavour, and once again highlights the vocal talents of bass player Sam Austen. Will Hall’s lead accompaniment is also outstanding, not just on this track but throughout the entire album. ‘Aspire For The Darkest Hour’ keeps the tempo low but brings back the intensity whilst maintaining the melancholy feel. Greg Chivers barking his lyrics over the pounding drums of James last, with Will Hall and Sam Austen creating the ambiance, before they all give way to a haunting acoustic guitar melody. It’s not long until normal service is resumed and the full band returns with a powerful, melancholic closure.
The two part ‘The Death Of A Rose’ spans more than 10 minutes, once again taking the listener on an aural journey from the hopes of optimism to the depths of despair and back again. The inclusion of an occasional distant piano adds to the depth and melancholy during the quieter moments. The second part of ‘The Death Of A Rose’ once again combines the exceptional clean vocals of Sam Austen with an acoustic guitar. An emotive and passionate track that you cannot help but be pulled in by… Closing out the album is the very different ‘Farewell’, with a Porcupine Tree feel to it at the beginning, before that distinctive Fornost Arnor melancholic acoustic sound takes over.
“The Death Of A Rose” is a phenomenal album and is a very different beast from “Escaping The Abyss”. It shows a maturing of the songwriting as well as in the abilities of the band. We loved “Escaping The Abyss” and now we also love “The Death Of A Rose”, both very different albums but both uniquely Fornost Arnor. We can’t wait for their third album, whenever that may be…
The technical abilities of the band are phenomenal and each track provides the canvas for each of them to display their individual talents, and in doing so combine to create a tight, cohesive unit making some of the most stunning music in Britain at the moment. Along with Talanas and Spires, Fornost Arnor are the flag bearers of a burgeoning dark progressive music scene in Britain!