Forged in Black – Lightning in the Ashes (Fighter Records)

Monday, 19th June 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Already impressive to this scribe for their 2019 Descent of the Serpent album, Forged in Black sits in that interesting amalgamation of power, progressive, thrash, and doom styles depending on the atmosphere or tone needed to convey with their songwriting. This third album Lightning in the Ashes continues to explore that classic template while adding modern accents both musically and vocally to keep listeners engaged throughout this ten-track platter.

When it comes to pinnacle, mesmerizing voices as of late, it’s hard not to recognize the poise, projection, and multi-octave power within the pipes of Chris Stoz Storozynski. Elements of Geoff Tate, Rob Halford, and Candlemass come to mind when taking in songs like “Dusk Breather” and Iced Earth-esque “Hellucinator”, the latter containing the right bellows in the simple yet effective chorus as the twin guitar/double kick action provides more energy during the instrumental sequences. The appropriate gallops have equal counterattacks with slower power/doom movements – “Dark Lord Requiem” one of those seesaw cuts that contains interesting transitions of a dramatic/theatrical nature, something you may hear from King Diamond taken into the modern landscape, bassist Kieron Rochester prominently featured in the mix a la Steve Harris or D.D. Verni. Softer, classical-oriented acoustic guitars open the jagged thrash / progressive metal juggernaut “Building a Beast”, Chris Bone and Andy Songhurst showcasing a bevy of axe riffs, shifts, and complementary dual harmony spots that most ardent followers of metal live for. Much like acts such as Metal Church or Vicious Rumors, Forged in Black seem comfortable with an open playbook as far as not rewriting the same tempos, riffs, melodies, or hooks time and again – which could put them in a glorious position as far as touring possibilities.

Impressive Dan Goldsworthy artwork (Alestorm, Gloryhammer, Xentrix) already should get consumers in the door – fortunately, Lightning in the Ashes has the musical prowess to make the entire package very notable. Forged in Black have studied the greats from the European/American scene of the 80’s/90’s, put a slightly modern spin on things, and could come out being another future leader of the steel brigade through their catchy, anthem-laden efforts.

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