Debut album recorded at Heavy Tone Studios in Turin. Mixed and mastered by Studio Fredman (Architects, Blood Youth). Released on 16 March 2018, distributed via This Is Core.
Founded in Turin, Italy in 2015, metalcore quintet Forbidden Seasons released their first EP Paramnesia in 2017 and have followed up this year with this, their debut album. Five individuals, the press release says, who came together simply to fulfil their dreams to play music. Good on them.
The band’s name, they say is about discrimination and a general lack of half measures in society today. “Everything is completely bad or good, black or white. There’s no space for grey anymore. Forbidden Seasons, it’s like forbidden feelings, forbidden thoughts, forbidden actions, forbidden goals…”
Lyrically, the album addresses topics such as anger, apathy, loneliness and misplaced trust.
Opening track “Atlantis” (track 1) opens with an atmospheric sound effect and then an electronic riff before the band kicks in with an undisputed metalcore-by-numbers riff: blast beat drums, staccato guitars, and alternating screaming and melodic vocals. “I feel myself going down” Seasons sings to himself about halfway through in a quiet interlude. As opening tracks go, it certainly sets out the intentions of the album. It also reveals the production of the album, which is a little light on mids and bass for modern tastes.
“Thank you for the venom” (track 2) picks up where “Atlantis” left off. About a minute into this song I found myself wondering if this really was a different track. I quite like the chorus though, it’s melodic and catchy. But the song does sound a bit formulaic. The video (below) features Suicide Girl Riae, apparently.
“Keys and locks” (track 3) was released as a single on 12 February 2018 (my late dad’s birthday). The song, vocalist Seasons explains, is dedicated to himself as a reminder to keep believing and not count on others. “I wrote this song thinking about people living their lives constantly looking for answers,” he said. “I don’t believe in fate, but I think it’s the willpower in all of us to define the path we want to take. The answer to all our existential questions is within us, this song is an incentive to stay strong and keep going on with the head held high in this drifting world.”
Top tip: don’t do as I did and listen to “Gravity fall” (track 4) alone in a dark room for the first time. The intro has a horror-like, blood curdling screech that scared the living daylights out of me. That aside, the song is decent enough. It just doesn’t add very much new to the mix. Unfortunately, by this point in the album everything is beginning to sound very samey.
“Wormhole” (track 5) follows the same trajectory. The cookie monster-style vocals do drop to a lower pitch, which shakes things up a bit, as does a descending keyboard pad about two-thirds of the way through, but otherwise it’s Forbidden Seasons-by-numbers once again.
“The human” (track 6) opens with a nice atmospheric guitar arpeggio and thumping drums. It’s somewhere between Iron Maiden’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and anything from Evanescence. To be honest, I don’t think this song really needs gruff vocals—Seasons’ singing is good enough to carry this song. The variety, though, is enough to pique my interest again.
“Sorrow won’t end” (track 7) opens with a brutal riff, once of the heaviest on the album. The song thumps along at the same pace as the others but seems to hold a greater sense of urgency. The chorus is quite catchy.
“I’ve seen the end in your eyes” (track 8) and it sounds just the same as pretty much every other song on this album. It is well played and masterfully engineered but there’s nothing new. It follows the same template as every other decent metalcore song: crunching, bouncing riffs, vocals alternating between light and dark, dropping to a melancholic and ponderous middle-eight before seeing itself out the way it arrived.
And then “The rejected” (track 9) begins and finally offers something new: a piano and strings introduction that… quickly reverts to a well-trodden groove. Strings and electronic ‘doodles’ are sprinkled here and there throughout the song which does offer something interesting but I fear that it may be too little, too late. It is one of my favourite tracks on the album, though.
Title track “Promise” (track 10) closes the album, short as it is at 37 minutes and 35 seconds. It opens with Elliot’s ‘religion speech’ in Mr Robot (season 2, episode 3) and returns to it during quieter moments throughout the track. It’s a good song, well balanced and contemplative. It’s a shame they kept this to the end, it’s maybe one of the best songs on the album.
As I was listening to this album for the umpteenth time, I was reading and article in A List Apart, a blog about web development that said this:
In his book Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon argues that smart artists don’t actually create anything new but rather collect inspiring ideas from specific role models, and produce work that is profoundly shaped by them.
If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original,” he writes, “we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it.
(Source: “Order out of chaos” by Richard Rabil, Jr. in A List Apart)
I struggled to find anything inherently new in Promises by Forbidden Season but that’s perhaps missing the point. The band members got together to create music in which they combine their unique influences and create something that is new for them.
Sure, the songs mostly sound very same-y but listen closely and there are some beautiful moments in this release, the title track I found quite haunting. It certainly shows promise and I have found it to be a good album to work to without being distracted.
Review score: 65%