New Jersey's Forlorn Path blend blackened doom with a touch of melodic death on their debut full length release, 'Man's Last Portrait'.
There have been line-up changes since the release of their previous two EP's, 'Being Towards Death' in 2010 and 'Intifada' in 2012, with the two founding members, Yuriy Garanaev and Dave Imbriaco, being joined by guitarist/sound engineer Ivan Chernikov and drums covered by guest drummer James Applegate, resulting in a new shape to their sound on this release.
This hour long offering tells of, "Stories of loss, longing, and the gradual decay of an ignorant world, inviting listeners on a journey that is all at once despondent and hopeful, treacherous and alluring." The band says that this release "combines the best of the old with previously uncharted waters." Musically it is a combination of aggression; of darkness and melancholy, with ambient keyboards, acoustic interludes and deep harsh vocals.
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The album opens on 'The Coming Of Winter' a simple beautifully melancholic instrumental track, with a dark bleak feel, very atmospheric and emotive. When 'Empire Of Decadence' begins, you really aren't prepared for the dark mayhem that you find yourself confronted with, blackened riffs, pulsating rhythms, deep gutturals and gargling growls. The final two minutes take on a gentler reflective and melancholic feel, a track that's full of surprises.
I loved the way 'Words Only Wind Can Speak' builds and develops from its opening point, initially keyboard led, the sound rises and builds until the arrival of the deep gutturals, two thirds of the way through the sound spirals away in a discordant manner to a gentler pace before building once more, ending on beautiful spiralling riffs. A gentle melancholic guitar opener builds rapidly on 'Masquerade', reaching a mid paced tempo and developing a dark melancholic feel with a spoken element midway. My favourite track, I thought all the elements gelled very well.
Atmospheric thunder rolls are set into simple guitar work on 'A Moment Of Silence', the pace picking up as this simple yet interesting and catchy instrumental progresses. Stark keyboards give a bleak tragic feel to the opening of 'As Hope Fades', a beautifully dark, bleakly emotive track whose pace rises and falls across the seven minute duration with dark whispering vocals in the slower segments.
'Ghosts' opens on gentle reflective guitars playing a repeat pattern that builds and develops, maintaining throughout a feeling of melancholy, emphasised by slow deep gutturals, a powerfully emotive and memorable track. Melancholic rising and falling riffs open out into resounding dirty blasts of guitars, frantic drumbeats and harsh gutturals on title track, 'Man's Last Portrait', it also has a great plodding blackened beat to it as it progresses.
Almost suggesting a ticking clock as it opens, 'What Lies Beyond' has a beautiful repeat riff to open, then, expanding out to a wonderfully melancholic track that turns quite dark in its feel, towards the latter part.
Final track 'Relics' has a very long guitar and sound bite intro before opening up to a quite fast, blackened and intense number at the two minute mark. At the point when you start to wonder just where this is going it drops away and there a spoken element but when the pace does pick back up again it is even faster more and intense, before a final slower, reflective finale, an exciting final track.
'Man's Last Portrait' is a good first release, very dark, atmospheric and emotive with clever use but not over use of sound bites, and one that I enjoyed. The album seemed to get better the further in I got.