The Foreshadowing – Oionos (2010) Album Review

Got another review out. Like I said, I will use my free time to write as many review as I can and I clearly want to review this album, since it is one of my favorites. Remember that I left an opening in the last review of The Foreshadowing‘s debut album? Well, I did it on purpose, so that I can start this review and the future one from their latest opus.

Honestly, they really nailed it with this second album. Oionos in ancient Greek means “sign” and it surely is a sign, a good one, filled with potential, filled with goodness and as well, filled with what we’re used from The Foreshadowing, sadness, but this time, with a better production, with a more mature sound, a sign that this band did not spend 3 years since their debut album doing nothing. Marco Benevento and the crew managed to re-invent themselves and to put forward probably one of the best gothic metal opus in 2010.

I think that in my other reviews I might’ve mentioned a principle that applies for every band. The first album is the manifesto, usually is not the best album of a band, since their sign has just been put forward to the audience, however, the impression it gives matters the most, since it is crucial for building a fan-base. However, not the same thing we can say about the second opus. The second opus should not be a manifesto, but the real thing, the revolution, the opus that should offer a mature sound, performance and a perfect ambience, perfect synchronization and maybe some other spicy elements to make the album much more impressive.

This is how I view Oionos, an album that represents not only the revolution that happened within the band for the past 3 years, but a revolution for the entire gothic metal genre, trapped in a sea of shallowness for almost a decade. Though in essence, this album is pretty much the same like the previous one, if you take it separately, you realize that something sounds different, the riffs, the music, the voice, the drums, they simply flow much easier than it did on Days of Nothing, Marco Benevento’s voice remained as sorrowful as it was on the previous opus, but now that the playing style has matured, his voice is put to value by the way the other band members are now playing.

I question what could’ve changed this band so much because, other than the drummer, nothing changed in the line-up. While, of course, I consider this drummer far better than the previous one, it is not enough of a change to influence the entire sound of the band. The most possible answer is the change of record houses, they signed with a record house (Cyclone Records) that has more experience with band that embrace the doom or death metal sounds (lets not forget that gothic metal, in essence is a genre derived from death metal) but it also sustains underground black metal bands too. In other words, this is a label that is experience with bands that sound mellow and epic (take Solstice for example, in my opinion, one of the best epic doom metal bands this scene has to offer, too bad it is not as active as it used to be in the past, and I am not counting live performances, but studio activity).

Same like the previous album, this one explores the tragedy theme, more specific, a post-apocalyptic theme. The song that opens the album, The Dawning, clearly manifest this way, with the lyrics “The world explodes and shows the tragedy of foolsWho chose the war and turned to ashes and ruins |No might or command to obey in the poisoned landAnd I keep death inside, just sleeping with corpses at night“. It quickly descends into the 2nd track, Outsiders, one of my favorite tracks that this record has to offer, with impressive drum lines that open this track (this is the reason why I like the new drummer more than the previous one). This track, and the 3rd one, the self-titled track, Oionos, present the moments before the apocalypse, portraying an event where “the outsiders”, I guess, the ones not involved in the conflict, watch how the world crumbles as humanity continues to wage war, instead of living in peace: And all the seasons always changinFor the outsiders it all remains unchanged.

Fallen Reign represents a moment of meditation, where the one that tells the story asks himself, whether there is life after death and what will it be, if what he could see in his mortal past, was just a holocaust? It is one of the most melancholic songs this album has to offer, and Marco’s best vocal performance, especially on the chorus. The 5th track, Soliloquium, stands as a mere instrumental or prologue for the second part of this album which begins with the best track of this album, Lost Humanity. This is the track where all hope is lost for humanity, where the protagonist views the cruel acts of war with helplessness. Survivors Sleep is a piano ballad where Marco’s voice is at its peak. Seriously, this guy sounds awesome on more down-tunned songs like this one, and the piano solo fits his vocal performance perfectly. Songs like this one remind me of the old Paradise Lost days.

No use taking all songs and analize them here either, since those that know them from their debut album or that know how gothic doom metal unfolds, realize that the instrumental performance is pretty much the same, with few pacing changes. I do believe that what The Foreshadowing needs is variety in the vocal performance. I think so, because, no matter how beautiful and enchanting Marco Benevento’s voice is, it is a voice that really becomes monotone if you rip it off of the song. His inabillity to go up several tonnes with his voice is a clear sign of repetition, this is why I will always put Draconian over them, even though the style is different, the fact that the voice vary, is a strong asset for the Swedish gothic metallers.

One more thing, this album contains one of the best cover songs I heard in a while. Honestly, there aren’t many bands that can produce cover songs, perform it decently, while being true to their own roots. Sting’s song called Russians was the perfect choice for this band and a perfect choice to place in this album, an album that explores themes such as war, conflict and post-apocalyptic scenarios. While, Russians is a song that ventures into politics and international affairs but it is still focused on the theme of conflict. Sting knew why he wrote this song, he did it to respond to the threats that the main leaders of the two sides, the Soviet side and the American side, to warn them that their way of doing things is not a good one, because in the end, they want to protect the same thing.

Now to underline some songs that represent the highlight of this album: OionosLost HumanitySurvivors SleepChant of Widows (probably the heavyest song they present in this album) and Russians (Sting cover). In essence, the entire album is good, all the songs are solid, and they will sure satisfy, but these songs that I mentioned are the ones that truly make this album shine, is all of them have their own distinct traits while keeping the roots of the band.

If you loved the represetnation this band has put forward with their first opus, Days of Nothing, then don’t think twice and get your hands on this album, because it is a rare gem. If you love their playing style on the first opus, rest assured, it has not changed much, it only evolved into a much better, a more mature performance, one that will surely impress. Gothic metal lovers, don’t miss this opus!

Overall: 95/100

The Foreshadowing – Days of Nothing (2007) Album Review

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This time, I won’t keep you guys waiting. While I still had some stuff to solve after I wrote the W.A.S.P. review (which explains the lengthy gap between the two last reviews), this time I can benefit from my own free time, listen to a lot of new records as well as not neglecting the older ones as well. Well, this is not what I would call old, a 5 year old record that managed to impress me at that time, still haunts me even today. Enter the world of gothic doom metal!

Previously I reviewed another gothic doom metal band which is also one of my favorites and I could always place them in my top 5 best metal band, Draconian. But, do we expect the same recipe from The Foreshadowing as well? The answer is not quite. Truth to be told, we speak about a clear distinction between these two bands, which is something new for me, since gothic doom metal is a fusion of genres that is pretty much limited in both playing style, singing style and song structure. Take Draconian’s songs for example, you could hear pretty lengthy songs (most of them over 5 minutes length), repetitive song structures, lack of guitar solos, a sorrowful atmosphere, and a beautiful duo singing, a male with harsh vocals and a female with e melodramatic vocal act, both of them representing their roots, the first stating that gothic metal took influences from death metal and the second reminds that doom metal, in essence, is not meant to be extreme and unconventional, like most people think.

What The Foreshadowing delivers is not that different from what Draconian delivers, but it has its own elements. The song structure and the instrumentals are monotone and repetitive at the same time, Marco Benevento‘s voice gets pretty monotone, as the guy does not change his tone at all, but what I liked more on this album compared to Draconian’s latest opus is the fact that the keyboard usage is not discarded. Individually, none of the members is impressive or ground-breaking, but placing them together, the magic happens, they manage to adapt their playing style in such a manner, that the songs they deliver are pretty credible, pretty enjoyable and it meets you expectations. Marco Benevento’s voice, even without the sorrowful ambience that the instrumental produces, manages to attain that sad atmosphere. I apologise to the ones that label the music of ones band, but I would also like to add the dark ambience tag on this one, since the songs are not as heavy and ruthless as Draconian’s songs. Also, add the fact that they do not use female vocals, and you have another difference.

If I were to compare them with a band other than Draconian, that would be Katatonia, as their depressive style resembles Katatonia’s Discouraged Ones, an album that gave hints of style change, from a doom/death approach to a depressive rock/metal style.

Another thing that sets these two acts apart is the lyrical theme. While Draconian prefers apocalyptic themes, anti-religious (especially anti-christian ones), The Foreshadowing prefers themes such as nature, death or stories about the armageddon. The production that this album received is also top-notch, as expected from the tech these days and it is clear that they do not wish to do things half-heartedly, they want to do it professionaly.

It is kinda hard for me to name some songs that highlight this album, because I really enjoyed pretty much all of them. The problem with this band is that, the songs alone are great, but when you listen to this album without pause, you cannot overlook the monotone feeling you’re getting and it really gets boring. I enjoyed the intro, Cold Waste quickly followed by my no.1 favorite of this opus, The Wandering. This song proves that this band knows when the speed up stuff and when to slow down, as well as the guitarist duo shows that they can colaborate well. Marco Benevento’s vocal act is also very depressing managing to deliver exactly what would one expect from a gothic doom metal band. Also this is one of the more heavy tracks this album offers.

The guitar riffs on Departure are also well executed, whick makes this song another highlight of this album. Afterwards, Eschaton enchants the ears of the listener with some of the best rhythms which partly reminds me of old Anathema, with that feeling of suicide. What I like about Marco’s voice in this song is that he tends to go a little bit high here. Some people might call his performance as a lack of motivation, but I think he does it on purpose, trying to make one realize that this is not an album where eagerness builds its way, but where death, darkness and suicidal thoughts reign.

I stop with my song analize here, no point in talking about all of them since on paper they sound all the same, but when you give the album a listen, you realize that all of them have their own good points, even though the good points can be found on all of them. Lets not forget that this is a debut album, it has one fatal flow, the fact that it does not have a closure. It begins well, it develops well, it catches your attention but it end abruptly.

For a debut album though, this is pretty solid. If we check the background of Marco Benevento for example, we realize that he comes from a similar background. He contributed with his vocals on How Like A Winter’s 2004 opus (in my opinion, one of the best gothic doom metal acts) and on Kamlath‘s first opus as well. He is a singer rooted in the gothic doom metal genre and the dark ambient style.

All in all, if you are a fan of gothic doom metal, don’t skip this album, rather than that, rest assured, if you love Katatonia, old Anathema, Draconian or if you are acquainted with Marco Benevento’s other bands, I assure you that you can buy this album without trying it before, it will surely appeal to you and it won’t be a waste of cash. For those that are not so well experienced with the implications of the gothic doom metal scene, you should give it a shot first. This is not a ground-breaking opus, this is not entirely original, but it is something new in a sea of mediocrity. Maybe this band won’t rise to fame (though I hope that I am wrong), but I hope they won’t reduce their quality in their later works in order to appeal to a wider audience and to break into mainstream (which is common for the gothic scene nowadays anyway).

Overall: 78/100