Long gone are the days when metal was dispensed by shirtless men boasting and flexing like a Manowar show or bachelorette party. In fact, our latest heretics are a husband and wife team from Nashville, TN. The way things are going, soon we’ll be blown away by groups of grandmothers and their cats playing accordions through distortion pedals, songs about knitting doilies, and writing checks for two dollars. But all kidding aside, the duo known as Forest of Tygers makes for one hell of a racket, pitting the virulent ravings and guitar alchemy of Jim Valosik against his wife Rachel’s blistering drum barbarism. At its best, the latest record “I Will Die of Violence” is a tangled nest of dissonant guitar lines and wracked psychotic screams. At it’s worst, it’s a bottomless pit of hellish noise. Personally, I can take either.
The efficiency alone is admirable. It’s apparent that either one of these two could be the spark plug in a more traditional 4-piece metal band. Rachel’s constant double-bass pumps drive sly changes between crash-heavy grooves and black-metalish hi-hat rides. Jim belches up ursine roars while simultaneously tapping the guitar with two hands, activating organ-like drones and stormy squalls through spit-and-chicken-wire foot pedal connections, and cooking up two eggs over easy and a side of toast. Okay, I made up that last part – but you get the idea.
The meaty organ-style barre drones in the first minute of “The Lie of a Long Life” kick off a sludgy flight of exploration, soon accompanied by spiky tremolo-picked calculus from Jim and an airy, stomping percussive groove – it sounds like four people. After a couple of minutes, speed jacks up, and the song goes full-scale black metal on our asses, lightning-picked rhythms and intricate atonal melodies blossoming like dark orchids before our very ears. “Night’s Embers” begins with an unobtrusive fingerpicked acoustic intro – consider it a signpost that we’ve entered unknown territory as Jim is soon violating our craniums with his charismatically mathy speed-spasms, accompanied by ungodly roars. It flows like many of FoT’s works – ridiculously tight and complex – giving way to ringing, dark and dissonant passages that expand and poison the air like diesel fumes – soon sucked back in again for another riff exercise in brain-wrecking tightness.
Forest of Tygers is the band we have all created through our gnat-like attention spans, demands for more speed, for more complexity, and more exciting sonics. It’s the band technology has created through the thousands of metal artists competing for our sparse dollar and download. It comes in a nanosecond before the year-end-best-of lists are formulated. Anyone who includes this record in theirs is a fucking guru worth following. It won’t be long before fans of Liturgy, Krallice, or Deafhaven are hunting this one down.