REVIEW: Forsaken – Witness/Hell [EP]

Artist: Forsaken
Album: Witness/Hell [EP]
Rating: 4.75/5
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It’s becoming increasingly easy to write off bands in just about any genre for just about any arbitrary reason. More and more it seems common to hear about how deathcore band X “just isn’t heavy enough,” or “not technical enough” and metalcore band Y has a “mediocre singer” or “cliche album art/name/album title.” Every band seems to have to fill some sort of new and exciting niche to avoid being tossed aside and ignored after a pithy listen or two. Enter Forsaken, and their new EP Witness/Hell, which may not redefine the genre by any means, but makes for a more than worthwhile listen as it drags the listener through six layers of spine-shattering Hell.

“Wait, wait, wait,” you’re saying right now. “Is this just going to be another boring, run-of-the-mill deathcore EP by some band I won’t even remember ten minutes later?” The answer is no. While the Conneticut-based deathcore quintet don’t re-invent the genre, they provide a variety of perfectly blended elements to provide one of the most relentlessly heavy releases to hit the scene recently. Every track is a maelstrom of back-breaking chaos with little reprieve for the listener. While one guitar plays a noodling tremolo-laden lead, the other provide a downtuned, chugged-out foundation which, more often than not, is hammered into place by machine-gun speed drumming. The entire experience–metaphorically, much akin to a house–is roofed by low, guttural vocals that are just intelligible enough to keep the listener aware of the general theme of each song, which usual consists of hate-filled lyrics to fuel the microcosm of brutality present in every track.

The EP isn’t one big breakdown, either. This is perhaps where the real beauty and glimpse of actual magnificence of Witness/Hell shines through. Most tracks feature just a hint of technicality and extreme musical proficiency, laced carefully throughout the entire track. “The Hinge Factor” demonstrates this particularly well, opening with a sweeping, intricate guitar line which reappears at several points during the track. The vocals change as well to keep the listener on the edge of their seat, occasionally leaping up from murky, deep lows into piercing, screeched highs. These leaps into the realm of technical deathcore turn out to be Forsaken’s saving grace, keeping them from falling headlong into the only potential flaw for the EP.

Repetition is a deathcore band’s biggest hurdle. How to provide an uncanny, brutalizing experience without either being overwhelmingly polarizing or unbearably repetitious? Forsaken have this more-or-less down to a science. With the occasionally monotonous breakdown or same-sounding song progression, the short length of the EP along with the well-structured songs and sneaky infusion of technical time changes and dynamic melodies keeps Witness/Hell fresh. Without these elements pervasive throughout the release, Forsaken would simply have churned out another run-of-the-mill product from the cogs of the deathcore machine.

Listening to Witness/Hell is like listening to a shipwreck–in the best possible way. The unrelenting, uncompromising brutality present in every track, along with Forsaken’s penchant for the occasionally musical showboating makes Witness/Hell a near-perfect deathcore EP, so long as it is just that–an EP.

By Connor Welsh/Eccentricism

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