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The Book - Forgotten Art of Old

The Book
Forgotten Art of Old
by Chris Hicklin at 11 July 2022, 11:46 AM

Four-piece Traditional Metal Band THE BOOK were formed in 2020 in the ancient Czech region of Moravia. Recorded over six months in 2021, the LP “Forgotten Art of Old” has been in the can for a while now as the band searched for a label to unleash their creation upon the world. Having inked a deal with Rafchild Records in early 2022, the band are now full steam ahead and ready to conquer the world of Metal, subject to appropriately good material of course. But do they have the goods? Let’s find out.

The project is quite fascinating, first track “Serpent Baron” is a prime example of what to expect from this release, you might describe it as being slightly schizophrenic. The sound is rooted in the 70s, there are obvious comparisons to the sound of BLACK SABBATH immediately from the offset and yet the song glides between Doomy riffing and breaking into powerful NWOBHM gallops, never completely committing to either style but melding them seamlessly. They have gone with a deliberate lo-fi approach with relatively sparse guitars compared to today’s Traditional Metal. Nothing is too perfect, and this is a stylistic choice not a reflection of their abilities as musicians. Take the guitar solo for instance, Torham hits lots of not-quite-right notes, but each one is perfectly judged in its imperfection. Similarly, you know Forneus could probably blast out some operatic madness with his vocal abilities, but instead he puts on a slight drone, never quite nailing each note but nevertheless each is calculated with precision. The drums stumble a little over fills, never technically flawless but always packed full of drama and character. As the track reaches a conclusion, Forneus’ morbid wailing demonstrates a very strong grasp of melody, it’s no pop track, but it has you singing right along with him.

This dissociative identity disorder displayed in track one continues into “Striking Solar Force” which can’t make its mind up if it is classic Heavy Metal track or a modern Death Metal offering as Forneus offers up some very aggressive guttural growling vocals, while the song veers wildly between mid-tempo crunchy riffing and thrashy choruses. “Sacrificer” refocuses on melody, and again Forneus surprises with another unique style of vocals, delivering both a deep bellow and a high-pitched Metal wail at various points, with purposefully discordant harmonies littering the landscape.

Once again, “Sculptures of the Gods” switches things up, going for a full-on Speed Metal approach this time. Torham’s guitars are chunky and precise in the fast picked riffing, and the rhythm section of Dragul and Sarapis get a chance to flex their muscles to the max, the latter kicking out some tasty fills. “Man of Iron” is an electrified cover of BATHORY’S acoustic original, a nice update to the 90s classic adding some two minutes to the original run time.

On “Ancient SteelForneus starts out with something approximating throat singing, although it’s just him growling and modulating his voice, but it is effective. This one has a very Traditional Metal feel, although the composition is a little more complex than you might expect at once, we hit the halfway mark the song takes a sudden hard turn towards Thrash riffing which barely lets up before the end. The just leaves “Master of the Dawn,” another eccentric mashup between Doom laden riffing and Heavy Metal melody, with an almost Progressive bent. As always, the vocal choices are both confusing and exciting. The track fades out on a highly melodic note with its big chorus that demands a singalong.

I would say this LP is a triumph personally, it is one of the most interesting works I have heard for a while, the band has recreated some sounds of yesteryear faithfully and impressively, and then melded them with elements of something altogether more modern. The production is a bit thin in places, where it is supposed to be I would surmise, but when the band goes for something more modern, the production follows suit. The oddball vocals compliment the overall atmosphere greatly, occasionally hitting the mark head on, more often deliberately confounding expectations. It is a exhilarating ride from start to finish.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Serpent Baron
2. Striking Solar Force
3. Sacrificer
4. Sculptures of the Gods
5. Man of Iron
6. Ancient Steel
7. Master of the Dawn
Lineup:
Forneus - Vocals
Torham - Guitars
Dragul - Bass
Sarapis - Drums
Record Label: Rafchild Records
     


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