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Forgotten Spell – “Epiphaneia Phosphorus (Angel, God or Insanity)” (Album Premiere)


Not much has changed in the very belly of the black metal underground over the past thirty years. Though a handful of black metal bands have found commercial success, complete with big tour packages, merchandise upon merchandise, albums on all conceivable formats, there is this deep, deep undercurrent of artists who solely make music for themselves and their friends. Much like the more publicized The Black Legions, who released music in exceedingly limited amounts (aside from the Black Legions Metal and March to the Black Holocaust splits), only to be leaked to the public through carelessness, small contingencies choose to remain isolated and maintain control over who hears their music. Privacy is an art form, and these underground acts thrust themselves from the world and hide their art. With a mountain of releases generally limited to the low-double digits in copies, German hermit Angra Malakh’s Forgotten Spell is one of those special acts who, without the intervention of now-dormant tape label Parasyte Curse, would still remain completely under the radar.

Bands like Forgotten Spell are special. With only photo documentation proving the existence of 75% of this musician’s solo evolution over the past thirteen years, we can only speculate as to what eventually led to Forgotten Spell’s first public release, 2009’s Desecrated, Decayed, and Still Holy. Though the mystery still remains, what was obvious was Malakh’s practiced ear for harmony and orchestration made his take on triumphant, Germanic black metal makes Forgotten Spell a unique act.

Epiphaneia Phosphorus (Angel,God or Insanity), Forgotten Spell’s first fully public release (and first official full-length) culminates thirteen years of work honing his skills and isolated meditation deep within the underground. The long-form, densely-composed black metal found in these near-ninety minutes fuse a grandiose, epic scope with a musical evolution entirely belonging to Forgotten Spell. Though Malakh’s musical lineage can be traced directly back to Moonblood (with whom he has shared a split release recently and was audacious enough to cover on this very release), Forgotten Spell’s meditations and elaboration on the epic, Germanic black metal which was fully defined on Taste Our German Steel and Blut & Krieg launch the punctuated style far into the stratosphere. Angra Malakh’s apparent obsession with orchestration leads to lengthy passages of infinitely layered guitars, dense polyphony, and ever heightening climaxes. Even at its most evil, movements like “Along the Ocean of Funeral Sun,” the choir of acoustic guitars which lead its title track, or the mammoth introduction to “Aesthetics of Necromantic Manifestation,” Epiphanea Phosphorus carries itself with a Wagnerian sense of awe-inspiring pomp.

Of course, though Forgotten Spell’s aesthetic is entrenched in black metal, I wouldn’t strictly refer to the music as such. Somewhere across his lengthy solo career as a hermit, Forgotten Spell took on its own unique character in a bout of musical punctuated equilibrium. Scattered among the blasting black metal trappings and medieval folk touches, there are moments of bizarre uniqueness which truly transcend black metal. Take, for instance, the aforementioned “Along the Ocean of Funeral Sun:” the song is aggressive, sure, but the big, fleshed out chords, cleaner distortion, and staccato strumming seem almost psychedelic in nature. Angra Malakh revels in his own chaotic sense of density which results in a frightening, strangely beautiful ambiance. There is just so much sound happening at once that the triumphant nature of the music transmutes into a trance-inducing ethereality.

Granted, there is a quality found in Forgotten Spell which could very well be a glaring source of contention for the masses. Though Angra Malakh’s unique sense of harmony and capturing catchy melodies is enjoyable, he doesn’t really “have the chops” to pull this kind of music off perfectly. That being said, I really don’t find issue with it. We who listen to black metal have become spoiled by practiced musicians in high-cost studios over the years, but black metal’s roots were never concerned with the concepts of “musicianship” and “chops.” There is an earnestness in Angra Malakh’s scattered drumming and wavering, out-of-sync guitars, but don’t let the concept of “earnestness” be a damnation, because the passion and rage which fuels Forgotten Spell’s music outranks any potential issue with “slop” or “mistakes.” The 90 minutes found within Epiphaneia Phosphorus (Angel,God or Insanity) hearken back to a time where black metal was an isolated affair, where friends secretly traded tapes of their own rehearsals and took corpse painted photos of themselves in the woods. Forgotten Spell’s enraged, enraptured music is made by a complete outsider, someone who doesn’t collaborate with other musicians and, at least up until this point, specifically controlled who could hear his art. Some might refer to this type of behavior as “elitism,” but I can’t think of a stronger example of the spirit which fueled black metal’s impetus, of which musicians like Angra Malakh strive to keep alive.

The beauty and hatred found within Forgotten Spell’s Epiphaneia Phosphorus (Angel,God or Insanity) will see a lavish 2LP release on August 1st via long-standing Chinese label Psychedelic Lotus Order, who you might recognize under their alternate name, goatowa rex, with art by the talented Nicola Solieri and Carla Vignali. In a bizarre turn of events, we at Invisible Oranges are lucky enough to bring you, the listeners, and exclusive first listen to the pure, unadulterated black metal of Forgotten Spell’s first-ever full-length release, in which you will find yourself enraptured below.

 

At the artist’s request and in deference to his vision, the four sides of this double-album have been left intact, meaning the eleven songs on this album have been condensed into four movements.

Forgotten Spell and Angra Malakh do not use social media. You’ll just have to keep your ear to the ground with this one.

 

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