It doesn’t seem as though anything, even a global pandemic, can stop Ripple Music‘s relentless efforts to corner the market in quality heavy music. Perhaps I’ve got a skewed perspective because I end up reviewing a decent portion of the albums they release, but the California-based label seem to be churning out awesome records at an alarming rate at the moment. This time round they’ve picked up Forming The Void, who released previous albums on Kozmik Artifactz and Argonauta Records.
A four-piece hailing from Fayetteville, Louisiana, Forming The Void are one of those few bands who seemed to completely nail their sound from day one. Their self-released debut album Skyward from 2015 doesn’t sound quite like anyone else and every release since has served to subtly evolve rather than radically transform this basic template.
I’ve seen them described by people far more knowledgeable than me as prog-metal, psych-doom, and a whole array of other terms that suggest they’re hard to pigeonhole. Instead I’ll just stick with noting that Forming The Void are heavy and can churn out a riff to get your head nodding with the best of them, while also introducing a sense of spacey psychedelia at points.
If there’s one thing that struck me with Reverie, their fourth album,compared to their previous output, it’s that the band have never sounded heavier and they’ve really upped the fuzz levels this time round. Another thing to note is that despite the band’s progressive tendencies, Reverie clocks in at a concise seven songs in a little over 35 minutes.
Reverie is an excellent album: heavy, atmospheric, and all but certain to get your head nodding…
Opener Sage gets things underway in fine style with pounding drums and a wall of guitar and bass that sound like a thunderstorm of fuzz rolling into town. The chorus is awesome as the band up the tempo and James Marshall’s vocals soar over proceedings. This is Forming The Void at their best, melding punishing heaviness with astral-voyage-aesthetics of the best psychedelia.
There’s no let up with Onward, another track which highlights everything good about the band. Quiet sections lead into a series of what you could loosely term choruses, where a series of riffs, each heavier than the last, compete to get your head nodding. The vocals add a subtle atmosphere of menace and unease, and the track culminates in one of the pounding chug-fests that I think of as the band’s calling-card. I remember Slomatics using the phrase ‘bringing 4/4 to new levels’ (or something similar) and that always springs to mind when Forming The Void do this: carrying on a relentless, primal battering to the point where it becomes weirdly transcendent.
Trace uses a similar quiet/loud dynamic but with a more mellow feel. Still heavy, but more melodic and with a hefty dose of psych atmospherics. Storm is another excellent track, with chunky riffs, melodic guitar lines, and more cool vocals. Next up is Hive, probably the most immediate and catchy track on the album. The band up the tempo to great effect: the song is more vocally-driven and the injection of pace makes for a welcome change.
If I have a criticism, it’s that the final two tracks just feel a little pedestrian after what’s gone before. They’re by no means bad as standalone songs, but they lack identity and sound a little too similar to whats gone before to really stand out. Both Satellite and the very aptly-titled Ending feature a similar mix of slow, chugging heaviness and melodic passages, but for me neither quite hits the heights of the earlier tracks. It would have been cool if the band really slowed things down to mired-in-molasses crawl (as they did with Unto The Smoke on a previous album) or let their psych tendencies really stretch out.
But, really that’s just me, self-proclaimed king of the minor quibble, being extremely picky. Reverie is an excellent album: heavy, atmospheric, and all but certain to get your head nodding.
Scribed by: Liam Blanc