Forgotten Tomb Under Saturn Retrograde

With over a decade's worth of only partially tapped potential under their belts and several solid but unremarkable follow-ups to the good cop/bad cop one-two punch of Songs to Leave and Springtime Depression, good tidings have finally fallen upon Forgotten Tomb's already serviceable songwriting and bestowed upon them their most cohesive release in years. Under Saturn Retrograde picks up where 2007's promising Negative Megalomania ended, indicating that four years off has merely ripened the group's approach, as opposed to dramatically altering it. Fans of Katatonia's snow globe gloominess and Sentenced's screw-faced goth hooks will find the direction Forgotten Tomb have taken in recent years rather palatable, as the group have shed all but the occasional reference to their more blackened mid-period and essentially developed the style of their debut in a more polished, succinct direction. Most of the songs are chorus-driven, lacking the drawn-out structures of earlier work, although they still see fit to incorporate the occasional blast beat or urgent tremolo burst to switch things up. Including a Stooges cover is risky business, but the eerie appropriateness of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" smack in the middle of the record hints at an understated cleverness that complements the record nicely. One could argue that there is little musical ground to cover that hasn't been tread by a number of bigger names, but with so many of the depressive acts plunging guillotine-deep into prog or forcedly rehashing decade-old glories, it's nice to see an act that simply get the job done. (Agonia)