The Answer Lies In The Black Void is a collaboration featuring Jason Köhnen, known for his time in numerous Dutch bands, namely Celestial Season, Bong-Ra and The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble who is joined by vocalist Martina Horváth from Hungarian avant-garde metallers Thy Catafalque. The promo notes state the project was ‘born out of their shared passion for doom’ that Forlorn ‘is an enveloping exploration of the doom genre and the myriad means of expression within it – journeying from a classic old-school sound to something more contemporary’ and the album ‘explores the sacred union of the divine feminine and masculine, the light and the dark, the shadows that hide within and the trials of love, lust and loss’.
And I must agree with that description. When I first saw this band’s name come available, I thought ‘Well there’s a band name that took some thought’, and I checked it out. What I heard did not match the more basic description of ‘doom’, at least to me. I put it on my car stereo as I drove through downtown Toronto during a massive thunderstorm. The opening track, Mina, was well, massive. The colossal drumbeats accentuated the bursts of lightning smashing the sky. Martina, who I can best compare to Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan (if she was metal), soars above the thunderous guitars, shadowing the sheets of rain that assaulted the windshield of my car.
Barren is a slower more plodding exercise, heavy with emotion and despair. I wanted it to break out and move forward, but it remained back, restrained. Rubicon, the third track, starts with what seems like an in-rehearsal warm-up, returns to structure with Martina’s vocals taking us back to that dark place she has shown. Her voice is powerful and confident that displays a great range of emotion and depth. A frenzied saxophone solo comes from out of nowhere and is not out of place. Daniel Azar Arendarski really is adept at the console and has done a very good job mixing the album. Every instrument is bright and equal in the mix, nothing overpowering the rest further down.
What really sets this apart from more classic doom offerings is the vocals, Martina’s voice soars above anything I would even consider standard in the genre…
Moult is up next, with an industrial like drone, Martina echoing Sarah McLachlan’s stylings closer than before. For Nevermore continues in this vein, heavy droning guitars over a slow crushing tempo, with a surprising keyboard solo midway. The video track, Become Undone is the stand-out on the album. It starts slow and gets increasingly manic, with an odd, off-key section, until full blown chaos erupts. Next, Okkultus chimes in with a strangely Treasure era Cocteau Twins vibe. Where did this come from? Even stranger, White Dove is next, with what sounds like the tape deck ate the master; if you’re old enough to remember what it sounds like when your Walkman eats your favorite Iron Maiden cassette. The album closer, Curse continues with the harsh tempos and thematic changes prevalent over the album.
This album was not what I was expecting to hear at all. It’s closer to avant-garde than doom, more Sonic Youth than Saint Vitus. What really sets this apart from more classic doom offerings is the vocals, Martina’s voice soars above anything I would even consider standard in the genre. Don’t let that discourage you from giving this a try though, you may miss something special.
Scribed by: Sean Haner