The Forsaken - Arts of Desolation
Century Media
Aggresive melodeath/thrash metal
11 songs (48'53")
Release year: 2002
The Forsaken, Century Media
Reviewed by Alex

If you ever thought to yourself while listening to a metal album: “This thing shreds!”, stop and ask yourself a question: “Have I ever heard Swedish The Forsaken?” If the answer is no, then you haven’t even come close to what shredding really means. Go, dig out Manifest of Hate or the album I am about to review, Arts of Desolation, then drop me a line. If after listening to The Forsaken you don’t feel as if your body has been sliced with machete a million times, something must be wrong with your ears.

Arts of Desolation, The Forsaken’s second installment comes on the heels of the well-received 2001 debut Manifest of Hate. The band sustained one loss with bassist Michael Hakansson leaving the band to fully concentrate on Evergrey (OK, I would be mad if he left for a lesser band, but Evergrey is mindblowing!). So, guitarist Patrik Persson pulls double duty chugging the bass lines all by himself (this must be making touring a hassle). The rest of the line-up returns.

Not much has changed from the debut. The Forsaken still employs Tommy Tagtgren and The Abyss Studio which gives them a clear, but improbably heavy and pulverizing sound. It is an art to produce an album of such menacing brutality and not muddle the music into a blur. With The Forsaken every individual riff is clearly heard, and this is entirely the point as they are meant to cut into your flesh like razors. Where Arts of Desolation is somewhat different from Manifest of Hate, at least in my humble opinion, is the way the riffs are harmonized and the way the melody flows over them. While in Manifest of Hate this happens often, Arts of Desolation tends to be less melodic and more aggressive. Melody is mostly provided in the form of superb twin guitar leads in some of the songs, Incubator, The Hatebreed and Scars being some of the examples. In my personal taste where the band has managed to marry this machine gun aggression with melodicism throughout the songs they have come out the most successful. I don’t think injecting a little melody over riffs takes away from the manliness and meanness of the band. From this angle, my favorite tracks are Cold Flesh Colony (the speed and tightness of the first minute is amazing!) and Human Chapter X (this is how aggressive melodeath/thrash should sound nowadays, the spirit of At The Gates is alive and kicking). When Anders Sjoholm screams “I am the Reaper” (I am guessing, as I don’t have the lyrics) on Cold Flesh Colony, you can’t help but join in with him. The lead in this cut is something Dark Tranquillity would have been proud of, and that is saying a lot.

Vocals in general tend to be of two types. I like a lower tone and growling voice which is used most of the time. I think a screamier version (Embedded Insanity) just fits the music less. Drumming is relentless and incessant, I have no idea how a man can have this kind of stamina to pull out such a performance live. Nicke Grabowski must be one rock-solid dude! If you ever think this kind of music is easy to play, check out the first 40 sec of Scars when the whole band flows together as one.

While most of the album is frighteningly fast, the slower Dethroned almost makes a nod to older Unleashed with its Viking-like verse, and the 2.5 min instrumental The Second Manifest is a perfect sludgy riff-melodic break in the middle of the album. Bonus track Human Prey reminds me a little bit of Morbid Angel with its rhythm section before breaking into this maddening march and finger-torturing lead.

I would not recommend this album to those completely unfamiliar with the genre not knowing what to expect. But those who were awaiting The Forsaken’s second album, buy without hesitation, you won’t be disappointed. The album is a little less catchy on the surface than the debut, and thus may run together a little bit towards the end. However, it will still batter you around and leave you gasping for air. Multiple listens to sort things out are encouraged. I will stop just short of calling this album “outstanding”, and give it the highest “very good” mark available on this site.

Killing Songs :
Incubator, The Hatebreed, Cold Flesh Colony, The Second Manifest, Human Chapter X, Scars
Alex quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by The Forsaken that we have reviewed:
The Forsaken - Beyond Reality reviewed by Alex and quoted 75 / 100
The Forsaken - Traces of the Past reviewed by Alex and quoted 91 / 100
The Forsaken - Manifest Of Hate reviewed by Marc and quoted 89 / 100
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