Album Premiere: Forlesen – ‘Black Terrain’

Forlesen album cover

Back in 2016, members of Lotus Thief, Botanist and Kayo Dot collaborated on a new project. Named Forlesen, the band blends elements of doom, drone, goth-tinged ambient, and atmospheric black metal. Originally based in San Francisco, they have since migrated up the coast to Portland after the release of their debut album, Hierophant Violent. Now the band returns with their heavier and even more diversely textured sophomore record, Black Terrain. Although it’s officially out on Friday (October 28th), you can listen to it a few days early, courtesy of I, Voidhanger Records.

No stranger to song run-times that approach or surpass twenty minutes, Forlesen open the record with “Strega.” Across 19 minutes, the band’s crestfallen gloom slowly shapeshifts around Bezaelith’s haunted vocals. The atmospheric components of the record emanate a distinct sense of tragedy. The album’s title track is a slow-burn crescendo that explodes into the jarring blasts of “Harrowed Earth.” But even when the guitars create a wall of blackened noise, Forlesen never surrender detail and texture. Lachrymose guitar leads rise from the doomgaze din, accompanied by tasteful synths. The compositions are densely layered, rewarding multiple attentive listens. Then in the album’s “Saturnine” finale, triumphant riffs surface after nearly drowning in ambient fuzz. The record’s closing impression is one of hope and light found in the bleak wilderness of the Black Terrain.

Black Terrain coheres around themes of dissolution and entropy, traversing and overlapping the intimate and personal with the metaphysical and cosmic, and in doing so, seeking the transcendent,” the band explains. “However high-minded this might sound, heartbreak, things falling apart, death, transcendence—these are universal themes. So our muse dances or lurches in perhaps seemingly disparate places that sing with this resonance and we draw thread from them all to hopefully weave something new.

“While the two singles we released highlight extremes,” Forlesen continue, “they are only brought into their proper context by taking the album in as a whole. The last song, “Saturnine,” may be the saddest and loveliest thing we’ve done. It features Leila Abdul-Rauf on trumpet and glockenspiel, who we are grateful to have gotten to work with. But what we would really like to say about the album is said by the album. In the words of one of the greatest songwriters of the last 30 years, “Long dark blues. Listen.” We hope you enjoy it.”

Traverse the Black Terrain by pressing play below.

Pre-order Black Terrain from I, Voidhanger Records HERE

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Forlesen band photo