If the hordes of the hell lay siege to the pearly gates above you can be sure US black metallers Fornicus will be to the fore sound-tracking the whole apocalyptic event with their incendiary debut album Storming Heaven. The self-released onslaught is a vicious torrent of sonic and pestilential animosity bound in compelling craft and inventive hostility. It is also a collection of individual triumphs combining to create one mouth-watering and blasphemous assault giving not only American but world black metal a refreshing shot in the arm.
It is fair to say that Storming Heaven is not a template to undiscovered realms within its genre but Fornicus has sculpted it with a tenacity and ingenuity that cannot avoid being some sort of inspiration to fans and bands alike. Hailing from America’s Bible belt, the Kentucky quartet emerged in 2013 and took little time in creating thrilling violations with a ferocious blend of black and thrash metal veined with a healthy staining of death metal insidiousness. Their first year was spent creating and honing their sound and songs before Scott (guitar/vocals), Chris (bass), David (drums), and subsequently Kelly (lead guitar), settled down to recording Storming Heaven in Scott’s own studio. Themed and driven by “a bold statement chastising Christ and his blind sheep for their “righteous” ways with the ultimate goal of destroying God’s Kingdom”, their album is a sonic pyre of discontent, malevolence, and hellacious enterprise which either sets the passions blaze or has them smouldering greedily, but never leaves then less than thoroughly satisfied.
The album opens with an intro called The Pledge, cinematic vocal samples and threatening atmospheres merging to intimidate and spark the imagination before We Are Sin launches a toxic web of whipping beats and caustic riffery. It is intensive and appealing bait which is enhanced by husky vocals squalls spraying venom with every syllable. The track soon strides with greater infectious enticement, riffs roving with relentless resourcefulness employing similarly addictive acidic grooves whilst vocally the varied voices of hell seem to have their gripping say. It is a masterful declaration of sound and intent brewing up a hungry appetite and intrigue for the devil inspired irreverence to come.
The following Pallium Mali intensifies the merciless infectiousness spawned in its predecessor, luring in the passions with a thrash seeded rampancy of riffs aligned to an addiction forging groove. There is an overall swagger to the blaze of persuasion too which is as open in the rhythms and guitar as in the caustic delivery of Scott. The track is an irresistible and mighty anthem of intent and uncompromising antagonism, but also casts a net of melodic endeavour and creative flames through the guitars which leave thoughts and passions greedier. It is the first major pinnacle of the album giving King of Egoists plenty to live up to. It makes a powerful fist of the challenge by coating its individual swing of beats and riffs with a hostile festering of abrasive maliciousness and corrosive rabidity. The track scars and entices with simultaneous and equal success, raging as it purposefully meanders with magnetic enterprise through its riveting and exciting tempest, only as its predecessor, the closing fade out a little annoying.
Both Into Obscurity and Thirst for God enthral and please with impressive effect, the first a maelstrom of spite and demonic demanding seared by a sonic and vocal enmity. It is an even more intensively imposing track than previous songs, a raw storm veined with inviting temptation whilst its successor is a doom leaden prowl preying on ears and emotions with erosive weight and ravenous ferocity. Neither song has quite the potency to inflame the heart as earlier tracks but both provide another depth and rigorous shade to the album which only adds to its strength and appeal.
An impressive cover of Sepultura’s Antichrist which comes next, the song painted in a black hearted tone and a bracing voracity which challenges the original. Its excellence is soon forgotten though as the brilliant title track sets out on its scintillating violation. From an opening avalanche of vindictive rhythms and a blazing sonic squall, the song hits the senses in a furnace of harsh causticity which in turn evolves into a ridiculously contagious, groove amidst a just as gripping charge of riffs. It is another track which intermittently goes for the jugular or slowly preys on ears and psyche, it’s stalking and rampage a fluid and constantly interchangeable treat.
The album is concluded by The Beckoning, the gates of hell and the band’s inventive hostility swung open for a final furnace of exhaustive and insatiable destructive antipathy. It is a mighty close to a tremendous release, one as suggested earlier with all the quality and bad blood to push Fornicus into a potent spotlight. Storming Heaven is an encounter for fans of bands like Marduk, Goatwhore, and Emperor but also the early settling of the band into its own distinctive corner, and well worth everyone’s investigation.
Storming Heaven is available digitally and on CD @ http://fornicus.bandcamp.com/album/storming-heaven-2 now
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