As predicted by the split exclusive “To the Wolves” released earlier this year, Forming the Void’s third full-length Rift is more to the point than its predecessors. Their sound remains rooted in Mastodon-style stoner prog, but the execution is far less meditative. There is a prominent sense of swing throughout, as lead single “On We Sail” boasts a direct marching beat while others such as “Arcane Mystic” and “Transient” match their Eastern-style leads and intricate riffs with bluesy rhythms.
This shift has been attributed to the band changing drummers in 2017, but the other members roll with the changes incredibly well. The guitar tone is thoroughly massive, a more riff-oriented approach results in it mostly staying low to the ground with occasional lapses of trippy navel gazing. James Marshall also continues proving himself as one of the strongest vocalists in doom; his range isn’t necessarily broad but it’s just as powerful delivering drawn out mantras as it is barking Conan-style battle orders.
Though with the varied songwriting in mind, there are spots on Rift where the track flow does feel somewhat jumbled. While “Extinction Event” does start things off a strong note, the more immediate beat of “On We Sail” might’ve made for an even more commanding opener. I also find it interesting that the two slowest and most doom-oriented songs are saved for the end, but they do make for a colossal climax.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Rift ends up being the best-known album of Forming the Void’s career. The revamped dynamic results in the group’s most accessible songwriting and their musicianship retains the power that made Relic so enjoyable. I do wish they had squeezed “To the Wolves” or another similarly direct chugger in here, but that’s hardly a deal-breaker. The band is getting bigger every day and it doesn’t look like the momentum will be stopping anytime soon.
“On We Sail”