Forever Slave – Resurrection
11/04/2005 § Leave a comment
Artist: Forever Slave
Genre: Gothic Symphonic Metal
The first thing you’ll notice about Forever Slave, or at least the first thing you should notice about them, is that all they have very silly names. Bands should know, even inside the realm of deathly evil nasty black-death-gore-injury metal, that if you have a ‘tough’ sounding name people just think you’re silly. Most people do, anyway. Maybe somewhere there are clubs and institutions you can walk into where people will respect you if you call yourself ‘Servalath’. I imagine a name like that could prove troublesome if you tried to get a job in a supermarket though, especially when it comes to wearing a name badge that says Hi, My Name Is Servalath, How Can I Help You? Oh, maybe it’s a stage name and I’m being overly critical. Maybe I’ll get the demon hordes of FS making a voodoo doll of me and humming blasphemies and curses round it for the next few Walpurginachts until I end up taking them seriously.
Well, as much as I would like to take FS seriously as people, taking their music seriously is another matter altogether. I don’t mind admitting that I was really excited about listening to this demo and I had very high hopes for it. I love the idea of dark metal with female vocals, especially on a vampyric and mythical theme. Unfortunately I must have managed to transform this album into some kind of dark legend in my mind before I’d even heard it, so the result was a little deflating, shall we say. Nevertheless, even if you had no expectations whatsoever of this disc, you’d still have a job finding something that was credible about it.
Lady Angellyca: Vocals
Leal: Keyboard and clean vocals
1. The Dark Secret Mysteries In Carpathians 2:15
Can you say forests, evil, death, darkness, blood and vampirism? Forever Slave can, and they thought and they’d make a nice tune about them. Cue church organs, choir samples, harpsichords, diminished and augmented chord structures and lashings of cliché. The only problem being that in order to create a tune that invokes dark images and feelings of the Romanian forest, you really need deep, brooding, powerful instrumentation. The last thing you want is to be hampered by a budget that means you can only afford to do it all on one synthesiser so the whole thing ends up sounding like a tune piped out of a fairground carousel. The result is more Count Duckula than Count Dracula, but it was a nice idea.
2. Erzebet Bathory’s Song 5:35
Actually, Erzebet Bathory didn’t have anything to do with writing this one, and if she could come back to hear the finished article she would probably be quite relieved that she hadn’t. After the token Castlevania intro, the violins and chuggy-chuggy guitars start and they’re actually quite nice until the vocals come in, which are unfortunately pretty dreadful. Lady Angellyca can hold the notes, but the tone of her voice really sounds quite strangled and that she’s singing out of her natural range. Not only that, but her diction is just terrible, it’s very difficult indeed to make out any of the words. Still, this song has some nice moments in it, but you can only work out what they are having listened to it about five times, otherwise it’s a bit of a dead loss. And we’re already a third of the way through.
3. In Autumnal Equinox 5:03
In Autumnal Equinox sounds like it’s in exactly the same key and tempo as Erzebet Bathory’s Song, so it doesn’t really feel like a different number. There’s a nice violiny mid-section reminiscent of early Tristania or TSOTB, but soon enough this breaks into a Nightwish-esque chord-bashing sequence before going back into the last repetitive segment. Which provides for some kind of variety. I’m trying here.
4. Ophelia’s Eyes 5:30
Right, this one is in the same key as the last one, so it’s becoming clear that our vocalist is not, shall we say, too versatile. Not only that, but the tempo and chord structures are too similar to the previous songs for comfort, so this could be any of the other tracks. My attention keeps being drawn to the lack of diction in the vocals, so it’s just as well that they provided the lyrics in the inlay, because Lady Angellyca really could be singing in Romanian for all anyone could know, though we do get a nice guitar solo at the end. Joy.
5. Beyond Death’s Embrace 6:27
Just by looking at the track time you get the impression this one’s going to be a bit of a long haul, but at least it’s slower than the other ones, that is until it reverts to the default Forever Slave tempo. The intro is quite a long one, and it’s not too bad, though FS are clearly held back in what they want to do by the budget on this demo. If this song were done on all the right instruments, it would actually be rather good, and the verse, amazingly, has quite an interesting tune before slowing down for the violin section and the masturbatory guitar solo which has little place in the feeling of the song. I get the impression that FS didn’t really know where to go with this one and it’s just a mish-mash of ideas thrown together which ended up working, though not too well. This is also exemplified by the spoken word discourse between Angellyca and Servalath – ‘she loves Satan!’ – before another attempt at operatic singing. Since this is the last ‘true’ track on the album, it should at least try to do something interesting, but it doesn’t succeed enough for you to think that the last six minutes of your life have been well-spent.
6. Funeral Of The Lost Soul 2:09
The closing song is another instrumental and a better one than the first. In fact, it rounds off the demo rather nicely and FS make far better use of the instruments that they have at their disposal, rather than exploiting their delusions of grandeur by letting their ideas run away with them. It’s still a little fairgroundy, but in a nicely spooky way. Still, you wouldn’t want this played at your funeral because everyone would laugh, and let’s face it, that’s the last thing that anyone wants.
Total playing time: 27:03
Total songs: 6
Resurrection is not a total loss, since what it shows is potential. The main problem with the album is that the songs are too samey, the production is stodgy and the vocals are really quite bad. I’m not one to drag a band up on bad production since a lot of the time I know it’s very difficult to pay for a good sound, but that doesn’t help Forever Slave’s overall cause because the rest of the elements on this demo are so bad. Lady Angellyca really has to work on her singing, but because the songs are all in the same register, I feel that she’s very limited as a vocalist and has little to offer this subgenre of music. I can understand the desire to cover all the ‘gothic’ bases and do the singing thing in edition to modelling, but from Resurrection at least, it’s clear she’s not that good at it. Forever Slave seems to be a band born out of the need to be recognised rather than the need to create naturally good music. Maybe there is some room for positive development, but if Resurrection is anything to go by, they’ll need a lot more.