Forlorn Path - _Man's Last Portrait_
(Independent, 2013)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
It's a humid, expectant Saturday night. The theatre's lobby is bright and well decorated with carved wood and low, polite chatter. Some of the smartly dressed patrons mingle casually around the smartly dressed bar over timid drinks. Chandeliers shiver patiently overhead, then blink pointedly at their gathered company. Glasses drain themselves or are set sloshing atop the gracious oak tables. Girls on their first dates follow women who barely remember theirs, into the dim rows of seats facing the lonely stage. Conversation continues, cushions unfold and creak with age and laughter. The crowd waits to be entertained. Lights fade. Curtains peel away to reveal a black-clad rock trio. Eyes narrow, lips part suspiciously. Unseen seatbelts clap shut of their own unseen force. Apprehension collides with amusement; accusative glares attack wide, confused eyes. When the first mournful strains emanate from the stage, many fight to stand up. Others stare, entranced. It takes only an hour for death's bony angels to rain black metal over those in attendance and cowl them in oily doom. One hour, and these lives are changed, drained, upended, reseeded and trampled. Faces are strained and wet and silent. The lights awaken, these eyes are forever darkened. They grope through aisles and out gaping doors, and the darkness follows them. Everywhere.

At least, that's how I imagine it would happen. Should happen. There's certainly a theatrical majesty to Forlorn Path's brand of violent hedonism. I imagine the unsuspecting public going all pasty-faced and O-mouthed if they were ever confronted with the epic tremolo-on-chug that gallops tragically across the landscape of _Man's Last Portrait_. Maybe you will, too. This is grand, even graceful brutality, as if monstrous gargoyle shadows unfurl gossamer, moth-eaten wings to soar on a gothic summer storm and spread the exultant news of death's glorious finality. Listing the album's charms is easy: percussion matching perfectly every twist and dip; terrifyingly committed vocal and guitar performances; piano and spoken word interludes; breathtaking compositional choices.

Come on in. Have a seat. The show will begin. Momentarily.


(article published 30/6/2013)

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