The field of H.P. Lovecraft-inspired metal calls to mind a few varieties - swirly black metal, certainly, which rearranges your mind into a portal to realms beyond, or doom metal, nailing the cosmic weirdness via rumbling pentatonics and hazy fuzz. Technical death metal might come the closest to rendering the extradimensional terrors that cement the subject material in the public consciousness.

However, Furnace's upcoming album Dark Vistas pursues a far less common avenue for portraying Lovecraftian horror: melodic death metal. Not only taking a different musical tack, the Swedes approach the subject matter with a fresh perspective, primarily seeking to capture the gripping narrative of the most famous stories as well as the dark thrills the bizarre subject matter evokes. Generating the same sense of glee that I got from reading Herbert West--Reanimator for the first time when I was younger, the grimy melodies of the band's illustrative death metal vividly sketch out their own tale of a man tempted into maddening power while the growled lyrics give the tortured protagonist an acerbic voice. We're premiering the new single "The Calling" now, which finds our questionable hero realizing his capacity for great and terrible things.

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Any proper story about the horrors of the Cthulhu mythos ought to have a good amount of insanity attached to it, and Dark Vistas builds that straight into the production -- the raw sound of the tom drums clashes with the near-mechanical clicks of the relentless double bass: a rush of boomy thumps clattering across the stereo field. That, like the buzzsaw guitar tones that carve out a symphony of elegant agony, builds a fascinating array of contrasts that adds richness and nuance to the sound. Following up on the well-established legacy of heavy metal's horror masters, Furnace also adds some theatrical elements to the the mix -- multi-voiced choirs are scattered across tracks like "The Calling" for a King Diamond-like effect, and the mid-album track "94 Bloch Lane" has an oddly catchy chorus that feels like it belongs in a rock opera -- right at home with the shattered mental state in effect by that point in the album.

Even if we don't want to gaze into the abyss ourselves, we're all wondering what it must feel like to brush up against something we can't even comprehend. As a far-ranging concept album, Dark Vistas offers us the passenger seat on a descent into madness.

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Dark Vistas releases October 9th via Soulseller Records.


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