Boston’s Fórn have been making slow, emotional music that rips your heart to pieces since 2012 and in that time the band have progressed into an entity that can make a simple guitar phrase induce introspection on a massive scale. “Manifestations of the Divine Root,” the first track after album intro “涂地,” places gorgeously fluid guitar lines alongside Chris P’s guttural vocals to create a contrasting atmosphere within the song. The beauty of the instrumentation and the crawling pace wrap themselves around a voice that bellows its pain for all to hear and leaving no room for light to pass through the darkness. Fórn’s second full length, after 2014s The Departure of Consciousness is a record of intensity; the shadows are vibrant, the sorrow is palpable and the tiny cracks of hope that show through are constantly coloured with anguish. Rites of Despair is not a record of brightness but rather a record of absolute misery; life is full of sacrifice and Fórn are no strangers to the fact.
“Ego Desecration” allows a moment of reflection and the soft echoing voice that overlays a more stripped back style is a welcome feature in a record that could otherwise overwhelm you completely with its weight. This brief respite is soon over, though, and “(Altar of) Moss, Lichen & Blood” pounds into view with a tenuous groove and the burden of isolation hanging over its head. Fórn are adept at manifesting pure emotion and the song moves through anger and acceptance and back again in equal measure, giving the listener a window into the souls of those behind the music. Everything is laid bare on Rites of Despair and the band are not afraid of showing exactly who they are with rage and hopelessness orbiting their sound from the outset.
The heartbreak of “Ritual Ascension Through a Weeping Soul” pours through Chris P’s voice and the doomed elegance of the track is brought forward by mournful guitars and their subtle climb towards the heavens. The song is a masterclass in grief with the beginnings of the track wrapped in pure sadness before seguing into faster territory and gaining a rage-filled momentum that is breath-taking in its arrangement. “Scrying Below The Wolf Moon” will cut you to the core with its funereal darkness while “Subconscious Invocations” closes the record on truly epic scale. The song begins quietly before bursting into life and taking you ever further in the abyss Fórn have created here. Rites of Despair is not a record for the faint hearted but it is a record for anyone who has experienced loss, depression, loneliness and the utter desolation of death.
8.5 / 10
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