FORETOKEN – Triumphs
- by ER
- Posted on 18-04-2023
RELEASE YEAR: 2023
BAND URL: https://foretoken.bandcamp.com/
I seem to be reviewing a lot of melodic death metal recently and that not on purpose but, here we go again, this time a Virginian symphonic melodeath duo on the occasion of their sophomore album “Triumphs” released earlier last month. What we have here is a somewhat traditional sounding affair in the vein of Fleshgod Apocalypse, Mors Principium Est or Dark Tranquillity but what they lack in originality they make for with very good to excellent songwriting with plenty of melody and a few departures into black, thrash and even power and groove metal for good measure.
I missed their debut release “Ruin”²⁰²⁰ but if it’s anywhere near this level I ought to remedy that as what Daniel Cooley (vocals) and Steve Redmond (guitars, orchestrations) present here is really impressive, having that same neoclassical knack as, say, Behemoth (The Wraith That Weeps) or Dark Tranquillity (Demon Queller, His Riastrad) can cojure up, but just when you think you have them figured out they serve you some power metallic gallop (Revenant Of Valor, Devil Of The Sea) to compliment 90s Megadeth guitarwork (Serpent King’s Venom) and a Testamentian thrash groove (The Labors). Specifically, the single “Demon Queller” recalls “Haven” although partially achieving almost black metal speed and “His Riastrad” is highly evocative of “Mind’s I” while the thrashier parts of “Serpent King’s Venom” remind me of the faster sequence of “Tears In A Vial”, but one of the most striking tracks “Devil Of The Sea” is pure and not so melodic death metal a’la Morbid Angel’s “Eyes To Hear”, and there are even moments, however brief of Trivium (The Wraith That Weeps) or All That Remains (The Labors) stylings, none of which would be half as efficient without the perfect session drums of Alkaloid’s Johannes Grossman.
While the variety of the material speaks for Foretoken’s strength it also happens to be its flaw. Tracks like “The Labors”, “Serpent King’s Venom” and “Devil Of The Sea” are so stylistically different from the rest of the Fleshgod Apocalyptic material that “Triumphs” almost sounds like a split with two different bands. They do seem to attempt a smooth transition already with the 3rd track, the partially Spanish-sung “The Wraith That Weeps”, which is a combination of the 2 styles. I even see that the opener “Revenant Of Valor” is followed by the already more melodic “Demon Queller”. However, the transition between “The Wraith…” and “The Labors” is too wide stylistically, the difference in sound too great and once we get used to it with the following “Serpent’s…”, which itself sticks out a little bit like a sore thumb on the face of the whole disc, “His Riastrad” brings the stylings of the first 2 cuts quite abruptly and then is followed by the even more different, that is, from both styles, “Devil…”. Again, this makes for great variety but feels haphazardly sequenced, and then we get the, admittedly fantastically executed but superflous Nagflag’s cover “I Am Vengeance” to boot, on one hand with more power and conviction, on the other adding to the confusion.
I conclude that “Triumphs” is a very good, excellently written and executed disc but may be one of those records which are better consumed one track at a time. Then again, all of that may ride your bike and I don’t see a reason to take away more than 1 point from the score, so check it out for yourself, it could be you’ll reach different conclusions.