Fordomth – I.N.D.N.S.L.E.

Rating: 2.5/5
Label/Distributor: Endless Winter Records
Released: November 2018
Buy Album: Webstore
Band Website: Facebook / Instagram

Band line-up:

Gabriele Catania – Vocals
Federico ‘Fano’ Indelicato – Vocals
Salvatore Calamarà – Vocals
Mario Di Marco – Drums
Giuseppe Virgillito – Guitars
Riccardo Cantarella – Guitars
Gianluca ‘Vacvvm’ Buscema – Bass

Tracklisting:

1. Chapter I – Intro
2. Chapter II – Abyss of Hell
3. Chapter III – Eternal Damnation
4. Chapter IV – Interlude
5. Chapter V – I.N.D.N.S.L.E.

Review:

For the curious among you (of which I know there are many – or why else would you be reading this?), I.N.D.N.S.L.E. is an abbreviation of the album’s full title: In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas Luciferi.

Fordomth are a Sicilian five piece who have chosen to make their debut release a concept album based on the theme of eternal damnation.

Consisting of five chapters, “the record is a one-way journey towards an abyss of nothingness, in which there is no room for light, hope or redemption.”

To tell this story effectively, in addition to the traditional line up of guitar, bass and drums, Fordomth have utilised three different vocalists on this release, two of whom were permanent members of the band at the time of recording (Gabriele Catania and Federico ‘Fano’ Indelicato), while a third (Salvatore Calamarà – who also mixed and mastered the release) adds further variety.

I.N.D.N.S.L.E. captures a moment of stability in an otherwise shifting line up. Since being recorded the band has slimmed down to a four piece, losing their “clean” vocalist, Fano Indelicato and changing their drummer from Mario Di Marco (who appears on this release) to Valerio Cimino. Further changes occurred when guitar player Giuseppe Virgillito left the band, resulting in a swap by Gianluca ‘Vacvvm’ Buscema from bass to the vacant guitar spot. Martino Razza joined on bass shortly before guitarist Riccardo Cantarella left!

If you’ve been able to follow that, then you’ll understand the line up who recorded I.N.D.N.S.L.E. barely resembles the current band. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that a band who have traversed such turmoil are so focused on the misery of blackened sludge and doom metal.

Of the five chapters on I.N.D.N.S.L.E., Chapter I is essentially an icy piano refrain that picks out a melody on the keys of a hauntingly tuned, upright piano. Its bleak delivery shifts towards creepy, discordant notes and eventually gives way to a soft hanging synth, before the crashing guitar of Chapter II: Abyss Of Hell kickstarts the main content of the album.

At this point, Fordomth hit a pulse that isn’t dissimilar to doom veterans Paradise Lost. Reaching further back for a reference, there is also a retrospective, Sabbathy feel to the production. Notably,  Mario Di Marco sounds like he is playing on one of Bill Ward’s recycled kits from the early 1970’s sessions. It’s a pleasing, low-fi recording that gives everything an authentic, doom aesthetic. Coupled with an effectively morose performance from the musicians, the early impression of this record is that it sounds thoroughly miserable; which in this context, is entirely appropriate.

The two vocalists, Gabriele Catania and Federico ‘Fano’ Indelicato layer their performance with a supremely low, guttural growl alongside a tormented howl. Each voice, delivered simultaneously, seems to occupy opposite ends of a wide spectrum. To my ears – although undeniably powerful – the deeper of the two sits less comfortably with the music, with Fano sounding more convincing when he hits his yearning holler – as he does in the final moments of this song’s eleven minutes.

By the time the album reaches its 25 minute centrepiece, Chapter III: Eternal Damnation, I find myself wishing the band would be more selective with the way they layer the voices. Rather than taking individual passages, the voices are often overcrowding each other. While praise should be given to the band for trying something unique, I can’t help thinking a bit of self editing or a more thoughtful blend would carry the potential for an increasingly dynamic experience.

This specific criticism appears to apply more as the record advances. Where there are some really good moments – for example, where Eternal Damnation starts on a clean, creepy crawl that reminds me of early Cure, then morphs into a heavier tune which aspires to become a real epic – it is an undeniably impressive, Iommi-esque crawl into the darkest doom. The whispered voices in the first half add drama and there is a triumphant guitar crunch in places… but it just feels so unnecessarily long. To my ears, the impact of the song is diminished the longer it seems to amble on. The gloomy atmosphere begins to feel like an aimless plod through the swamp.

While there is nothing wrong with an extended piece of music, Fordomth occasionally lack direction. For another example, Chapter IV: Interlude is a genuinely inspired duet between piano and violin that would be brilliant if only the tape wasn’t left to run for about six minutes longer than it needed to be.

Thankfully, the final track, Chapter V: I.N.D.N.S.L.E. is a purposeful and powerful closer that ends the album on a gothic march that manages to evoke the eternal damnation on which the album has been based. The guitars provide a rousing melody under the bellowed vocals and I’m left feeling confident that with a bit of work on their arrangements, Fordomth could become quite a formidable band.

My hope is that with a stabilised line up, their next album will be something quite special. In the meantime, I.N.D.N.S.L.E. is not without its merits – I would not actively avoid it, but buyer beware!

Review by

Beandog

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