Forgotten Horror - Aeon of the Shadow Goddess
Woodcut Records
Blackened Melodic Death Metal
9 songs (45' 33")
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Andy

If Jess and the Ancient Ones' stoner occult-rock sound isn't your thing, there's always guitarist Tuomas Karhunen's other project: Forgotten Horror, still with an emphasis on the occult, but black metal rather than rock. Their latest, bearing the rather magnificent name of Aeon of the Shadow Goddess, is just as big and epic as its name. Complex, energetic, and riff-dominated, it's just the sort of thing one would expect an axeman to bring to a black metal album.

The Adept starts slow and solemnly, with a theremin accompanying the guitar, but jumps straight from there into fast, savage riffing, introducing Behold a Shadow Goddess, which also blasts away with some fairly complex and atonal minor-key patterns that reminded me more of death metal than black metal -- sure, there's plenty of tremolo picking, but the rhythm and the blocky melodies remind me more of God Dethroned's blackened death metal than black metal of the Scandinavian persuasion. Karhunen's voice is a sharp and raspy whisper, even when he's growling in the lower registers, sometimes overdubbing himself for the more dramatic portions. One of the most epic tracks on here is In Ravenous Darkness (The Shores of Mictlan). In addition to the ever-present (and ever-changing) guitar riffs, there's a particularly enjoyable descending final chorus on here with a lot of melody, and other instruments slip in and out of the song so we don't just get guitar; there's a piano drifting in and out of the mix, and I thought I heard a woodwind somewhere in the mix at times, though that might just be a keyboard.

Nothing on Aeon of the Shadow Goddess ever gets boring; it's just one interesting riff after the other, no two sounding alike. And it's subtle, too. Babalon Emmisaries has a Middle-Eastern flavor to it, but nothing overt; the pentatonic scales aren't shoved in the listener's face. In keeping with the references to Lilith, female background vocals pop into a lot of these tunes, but again, very subtly, much like the piano and other instruments; even the guitar solos seem more devised to contribute to the overall sound than to take center stage. Her Crescent Horns has a bit of the Rotting Christ high-speed rhythm, but at a much more aggressive pace than Themis and Sakis usually allow themselves to go, while The Ghost of Time is more melodeath, as long as one puts an emphasis on the "death" part, with a circular little guitar melody playing at the beginning and end of the track. Lilithian, on the other hand, has a swinging marching beat dominated by double-kick drumming that breaks for a surprisingly traditional solo.

Aeon of the Shadow Goddess has quite a bit of variety on it, to say the least, and, given the completely different sound of Jess and the Ancient Ones, it comes as a pleasant surprise. I'll definitely be giving it some repeat spins in the future.

Killing Songs :
Lilithian, In Ravenous Darkness (The Shores of Mictlan), Babalon Emmisaries
Andy quoted 85 / 100
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