FORLORN - The Crystal Palace (HEAD NOT FOUND - CD 1996)
When discussing some of the best mid to late 90's black metal releases and bands from Norway, Forlorn hardly ever pops up. I don't even know why, because I think they did release some great music and especially their first album "The Crystal Palace" is very, very worthy and recommendable. Damn, if you're a fan of early or Gehenna, as well as first Arcturus and records (and let's not forget the era Bathory, please!!!!), this album has to speak to you! It doesn't matter if it's a bit forgotten nowadays and it's not one of those "true and cult" bands. If you like great sounding Norwegian music, especially in its more epic and melodic forms, then please give "The Crystal Palace" a listen.
It's been a while, since I have also listened to this album myself. And I have to say that nowadays this CD sounds for me even better than I remembered! I am astonished with its atmosphere and how much it is filled with enchanting, almost beautiful melodies. It's great epic black metal, done in not ordinary and orthodox way. Instead of being ugly and primitive, raw and hateful, this is just very well written and performed music. In its more aggressive and harsh moments, especially when they use shrieking vocals the music does remind me early Gehenna the most (not only due to the fact that was also a member of Forlorn, although he joined the band few years after "The Crystal Palace" was recorded). Take such "Lik " as an example - very close to Gehenna I think. But Forlorn uses a lot of acoustic guitars, keyboards, everything is very harmonious and atmospheric, mostly played in slow, kind of doomy tempo, with lots of beautifully sang clean vocals and choirs... Yeah, you can imagine. "The Crystal Palace" picks up the most melodic and atmospheric elements of Norwegian black metal and concentrates on them in 90% part of their music. So it's not an album, which will speak to those, who only like when their black metal sounds raw and violent.
One of the strengths of "The Crystal Palace" is that from the beginning to its very end there aren't any bad sounding fragments. Every song sounds fantastic and its atmosphere is simply mesmerizing. The first two songs "Lik " and " " are enough to "buy" me. There's something almost magical about this album that doesn't allow me to stop listening to it. So bloody good and catchy, so insanely memorable... These are truly fantastic 40 minutes and definitely it's also the best thing, which Forlorn has ever recorded, it's almost sad that none of their next releases is even half as good as "The Crystal Palace". The second album "Opus III - Ad Res" is barely a shadow of "The Crystal Palace" greatness. The black metal tag may not fully fit them, but I hate also using that worthless " metal" name to describe such music. So, let's just say that it's atmospheric, epic Scandinavian metal. One of the best in this genre, in my opinion, and so fuckin criminally underrated and forgotten!!!!
Standout tracks: "Lik ", " ", " ", "Gate of Mystic"
Final rate: 85/100