The Forsaken – Beyond Redemption (Massacre Records)

Tuesday, 26th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

There are few things in life more inspiring than redemption stories. One such tale is that of Sweden’s The Forsaken, returning from a nine-year hiatus this month with their aptly-titled release Beyond Redemption, a hefty, no-frills technical death album filled to the brim with vicious attitude and an arsenal of great riffs to boot. At first, one might be tempted to label these songs as average, perhaps even generic. All of the usual brutal DM trimmings are present: high-speed blasts, chunky riffs, deep growls, frantic soloing, and sinister atmospherics. However, it bears reminding that for the bulk of their career, these Swedes were operating within a completely different musical context.

The early 2000’s are now a decade past, and it’s just now becoming clear how much has changed since then. The New Wave of American Heavy Metal bands (Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Unearth, etc…yeah, remember those guys?) were taking over, and melodic death metal-while on a steep decline from the glory days of the mid-90’s- was still relevant and widely appreciated. We didn’t have frontrunners like The Faceless, Psycroptic, or Gojira to fly the progressive death/tech-death flags, both of which were not yet fully recognized as viable sub-genres.

Nevertheless, bands like Decapitated, Behemoth, and Hate Eternal had already begun to focus heavily on furthering their technical abilities while still remaining bone-crushingly brutal. Starting in 1998 with their Patterns of Delusive Designdebut, The Forsaken began to build a solid discography of their own that adhered to those same principles, combining stellar musicianship with suffocating heaviness. With four subsequent releases of steadily increasing quality, The Forsaken paid their dues and were more than ready to move up in the ranks circa 2003…until the various pressures of life forced the members to lay the band to rest.

Well folks, I’m pleased to tell you that The Forsaken are back…and you can bet your bottom dollar that after nine years of relative inactivity, they’re pissed as all hell. The title track wastes no time in getting nasty with thrash-oriented riffing, blasts galore, and a wailing solo to top things off. There’s some serious energy here- the band is showing no signs of age or of the apathy that often comes with years of experience in the music industry. As the tracks continue, it becomes clear that these guys are just glad to be back, and want nothing more than to put out a quality death metal record- no serious rhythmic deviation or avant-garde flute soloing here. Memorable moments include the fist-pumping chorus of “Only Hell Remains,” the vicious thrash tempos and stellar guitar solo of “As We Burn,” and the sinister, mid-paced opening of “The Light Divine.”

There are no halfway metalheads – you either are or you aren’t, and true fans of heavy music will stand behind it til their dying day. The Forsaken are living proof of this. After nine long years of absence, they’ve returned with a record that more than matches the urgency, ferocity, and passion that fueled their former releases. Here’s hoping that there will be many more to come.

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