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Forged in Black - Sinner Sanctorum

Forged in Black
Sinner Sanctorum
by Jon Conant at 02 December 2017, 1:49 PM

“Sinner Sactorum,” the latest EP by FORGED IN BLACK, was pitched by the band as being their biggest and boldest effort that lays waste to all of their previous work with a sound like we haven’t heard before! That’s big talk from a newer band, which is expected, but unfortunately despite some solid individual performances and a cool overall concept, the EP doesn’t quite live up to that hype, at least not cohesively. While FORGED IN BLACK is a newer band, generally speaking, they released a debut full length in 2011, and have produced several other EPs in the time between 2011 and their current effort “Sinner Sanctorum.” That’s six years to grow and develop as a band, but sadly “Sinner Sanctorum” finds itself held back by the typical problems you expect with a young band working to find their sound and figure out a way to gel together musically as a group.

There is a lot of cool potential here, the lyrical themes are neat, the vocals are outstanding, and they stay consistent within their style. But ultimately the album is self defeating in execution. The good news for FORGED IN BLACK is that is a very fixable issue (i.e., the talent is there). The bad news, fixing it is easier said than done. “There’s Always Time” kicks off the short EP (only four songs), and immediately presents the ear with one of the major problems we hear throughout: the production value. Now, normally I stay away from assessing production value. In metal you have many bands who attempt very different styles of production on purpose for the sake of art or vision, and it’s hard to objectively assess. That being said, Forged in Black has made it very clear they want to go for big, bold, bombastic, and epic metal driven by power metal vocals and strong, rhythmic guitar riffs. If you’re going for that sound, crisp and layered production is a must. You need many different sounds, styles, and instruments, and you need them to blend together.

As soon as “There’s Always Time” begins, it becomes clear we’ll only be hearing the bare bones in terms of what instruments and sounds they are putting forth. There’s not much going on besides the standard rhythm and lead guitars, bass, drums, and vocals, and they are not blending together particularly well. This is disappointing because the parts are all there, and they sound pretty cool, they are just not coming together in the way they are obviously shooting for. If I could give some friendly advice to FORGED IN BLACK it would be to listen to bands IN DETAIL like NIGHTWISH, EPICA, etc. who have established themselves as the masters of blending synth/choir/symphony/exotic drums etc into their music, and finding a balance between each part. I think understanding layer and production will be one of the most direct paths for FORGED IN BLACK to elevate their sound, because they have their base style present and established, and that’s half the battle.

Tracks two & three, “Pay The Price” and self-titled “Sinner Sanctorum” show us a little more creativity in terms of how they’ve crafted their parts. We get more chugging guitar riffs, and they even sound a bit proggy at times which is cool to hear. The drums are crisp, and vocalist Chris Stoz reaches some INSANE soaring heights in showing off his powerful vocal range. The middle tracks are where we get into the classic pulsating metal sound that has come to define the genre, and I found my head bobbing, which is always a good sign. That being said, the consistent production issues are not addressed or resolved here, and they continue to hold them back. The parts are written to be epic, I want them to be epic, they just do not sound epic.

Another unfortunate issue that reveals itself particularly on these middle two tracks is occasional lack of precision in delivering instrumental parts. There are moments where the guitars and the drums felt like they were struggling to stay on the same page, and that will ALWAYS lead to a more amateur sound, which is what you don’t want. You want your music to move and groove together, it’s all about finding a cohesive rhythm as a band. Disappointing, and hopefully it will be improved upon in further albums. Album closer “Crimson Echoes” is a textbook closer, and I love that. Thematic arc, even if it’s just over four songs, is something that I’ve always thought is incredibly important. So, hearing “Crimson Echoes” kick off with some acoustic guitar finesse before launching into the metal was really neat. But again, it lacked the epic sound I wanted.

Ultimately, “Sinner Sanctorum” is an EP with a ton of potential, but the band is holding themselves back. If they can find a way to elevate their sound beyond the bare bones of the parts they’ve written, they’ve got some really cool concepts and the talent to match. They just have to take that leap, and I’m rooting for them.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 5

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. There’s Always Time
2. Pay The Price
3. Sinner Sanctorum
4. Crimson Echoes
Lineup:
Chris Stoz Storozynski - Lead Vocals
Andy Songhurst - Guitars
Kieron Rochester - Bass and Vocals
Chris Bone - Guitars
Kev Rochester - Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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