The Forsaken

Traces of the Past

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Although generally associated (due to simple geographical proximity) with the Gothenburg melodic metal sound, the Forsaken's first two albums suggested they had a lot more in common with the highly technical, far more brutal American brand of death metal than their Swedish compatriots -- an assumption that is only confirmed by the band's third opus, Traces of the Past. Released worldwide in 2003 and in America the following year, Traces of the Past finds the adrenalin-fueled quintet splicing together Marduk's outright speed, Suffocation's devastating complexity, and, yes, melodic guitar solos in a small nod to Gothenburg. The only problem is that, for all of their jaw-dropping performing abilities, impressively wacky time signatures, and harmonious guitar, errrr...harmonies, the Forsaken often get lost in their craft to the detriment of the actual songs. As such, "Glitches Will Tell" and "The Empire" often come off as a mess of good ideas jumbled together in positively labyrinthine musical contortions, the dueling guitars of Stefan Holm and Patrik Persson more often than not offering the only temporary respites of linear melody from the general chaos. Having said that, opener "A Time to Kill" possesses an irresistible, almost black metal-like violence, "One More Kill" and the standout title track have a nice At the Gates-like intensity and swing to them, and "Serpent's Tongue" slows down long enough to groove on a set of memorable riffs and melodies. Therefore, fans who value compositional variety over songwriting cohesion will likely be just thrilled at the Forsaken's manic creations; but those misled by the Gothenburg comparisons better beware that this is far more challenging fare. [American versions of Traces of the Past included a bonus disc featuring a number of interesting covers of Metallica, Slayer, and Grave.]

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