Forming the Void’s second full-length album doesn’t show too much deviation from 2015’s Skyward in terms of style. The riffs have gotten heavier and there are a few more driving moments on Relic, but the Lafayette, Louisiana group is still a nice meeting point between prog, doom, and post metal. The songs are mostly driven by the meditative drones of Om, the guitar and bass interplay of Tool, and the consistently soaring mid-range vocals.
The band’s approach to songwriting certainly has evolved though. With a higher number of songs and more fluctuating lengths in comparison to the debut, it’s clear that they put more time into making each track distinct. The slow burn on “After Earth” sets the stage well while the sharp riff work on “Biolazar” reminds me of Fates Warning’s more recent ventures. In addition, the title track and “Unto the Smoke” show the group at their most grunge doom-oriented and “The Witch” is a most upbeat bulldozer. There aren’t any real earworms and the high quality writing makes it hard to pinpoint specific highlights but those are nice problems to have in this context.
Of course, the album’s real head turner is the closing cover of the immortal “Kashmir.” Much like Nevermore’s quirky take on “The Sound of Silence” (You know, before Disturbed made it cool), Forming the Void spends more time making the song fit their style than the other way around. The tempo is dramatically slow and downtuned, the vocals never reach for those Robert Plant highs, and the sporadic appearance of that iconic main riff may make the tune nigh unrecognizable unless you’ve memorized the lyrics’ interdimensional desert musings. It may run a little too long, but that was also a nit-pick I have for the original song. Fight me.
It is legitimately impressive to see Forming the Void jump from a merely good debut to such an incredible sophomore effort without changing their core elements. The songs may have more variety but the group’s penchant for proggy sludge is well preserved. It’s the type of album where the highlights may change with repeated listens but it’s guaranteed to have a place on my top albums list for 2017. Highly recommended for fans who may have been disgruntled by the recent outings by Opeth and Mastodon.
“Unto the Smoke”