Forgotten Tomb - _Negative Megalomania_
(Avantgarde, 2006)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8 out of 10)
_Negative Megalomania_ marks the debut of Italian black/doom act Forgotten Tomb on Avantgarde, following several years and solid albums on Adipocere. It also finds the band going through considerable stylistic changes which were previously only hinted at.

Contrary to its predecessor _Love's Burial Ground_, which initially reminded me of Darkthrone's "Transylvanian Hunger", _Negative Megalomania_ starts off by leaning closer to old Katatonia riff-wise on opener "A Dish Best Served Cold". Lest you forget their origins however, five minutes later they are on black metal blast beat mode. What you probably don't expect if you know the band is classic heavy/doom metal clean vocals to pop up, which they do as early as the second track, "No Rehab (Final Exit)" -- and they come back quite often as the album progresses. The title track also drops much of what might be related to either black or doom metal; by this point it becomes clear Forgotten Tomb have gone through considerable changes for this album. Some parts of track four, "The Scapegoat" reminded me enough of the likes of Crowbar to emphasize those changes even more, though there was also a riff in there that spoke to me of Katatonia. Finally, "Blood and Concrete" returns to more traditional Forgotten Tomb territory to close the album.

There really isn't much, if any, critical content in the above paragraph, and that's because anyone who knows Forgotten Tomb's earlier work needs to take a step back and hear everything objectively before forming an opinion on this album. It seems the band has shed any genre inhibitions that might have been shackling them before, and the result is an album that mixes a lot of different elements within each of its five lengthy tracks. The result is uniformly grim and pessimistic, but significantly more varied in its delivery than one might expect given their history.

Memorable, venomous and structurally effective, "A Dish Best Served Cold" starts the album with possibly the best track I've heard from Forgotten Tomb. Once it finishes, it's hard not to feel like you're suddenly listening to a different band, with the entirely different, slower and groovier instrumental style of "No Rehab (Final Exit)" and the beginning of the clean sung vocals. Despite the jarring transition, the track is not bad; it has personality, even though it fails to develop into anything very remarkable. The title track is more problematic, with a very catchy opening riff but some rather irritating clean singing early on and pointless guitar soloing midway through. The mellower section that finishes the song is well done and memorable. On "The Scapegoat" the very upfront clean singing over some sullen chords and later slow, simple riffs provides another jarring transition. The Katatonia riff kicks in to rescue the song momentarily, but the almost ballad-like nature of much of the composition (hardened though it may be) will surely divide listeners. Closer "Blood and Concrete" gives the album a competent finish; it's not a particularly adventurous track, nor did it need to be by this point, and it does a good job despite failing to even threaten to outshine the album's opening number.

_Negative Megalomania_ is a good album, although a less consistent than I'd like, and I am left feeling that Forgotten Tomb may well be on the verge of a major breakthrough. The next album will tell, but for now there is enough good material on _Negative Megalomania_ to make it well worth acquiring if you like the genre -- whatever that may be these days.


(article published 12/1/2007)

4/7/2005 P Azevedo 8 Forgotten Tomb - Love's Burial Ground
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