Pre-release review from Rebel Extravaganza.

In the realm of the black metal lyric, it’s uncommon to note such a stylistic shift between albums – at least not so abruptly – as what occurred in PURE WRATH between 2017’s Ascetic Eventide and Sempiternal Wisdom of the following year. While not entirely bereft of the former’s Nature-worship, it was clear that the fulcrum had tipped in the way founder and solitary member Ryo saw his place in the world, and his Indonesian heritage.

And, thus, does The Forlorn Soldier find PURE WRATH not only tipping the fulcrum, but stepping off and into an EP thematically linked in the harrowing genocide that took place in 1960’s Indonesia under the guise of cleansing. Isn’t that how most genocides begin, anyway?

‘When A Great Man Dies’ leads the charge, many-layered, tremolo-heavy guitars underpinned by rampant yet fluid rhythms, keys stabbing out at times making for a listen as unsettling as it should be for this type of subject matter. Of note is the clarity of the mix, compared to PURE WRATH’s early work, and when choral vocals wash over at the midpoint, it’s borderline transcendent. Slowly, the keys begin to take the main role in the song’s coda, plaintive and forlorn, leading into ‘Children Of The Homeland’, strains of early DIMMU BORGIR interwoven until martial drums morph into blast, riffs propelling us forward.

Closer ‘With Their Names Engraved’ begins at a slow, contemplative pace, multi-tracked vocals borne aloft music that could almost (with more time and a visual component) be termed cinematic. A solo acoustic conjures a sober, pensive mood, near-elegiac, while guest appearances by Yuri Kononov and Dice Midyanti (drums and keys, respectively) turn what could simply have been a good idea into a fully-realized dream, somber as it may be at its heart.

I’d been unsure what to expect from an EP from PURE WRATH, but The Forlorn Soldier succeeds by being at once grandiose and austere. While there’s definite a lot happening within the half-hour framework, the music never feels bloated for bloat’s sake. Everything has its place, and Ryo proves himself adept at knowing just what that place is and where it should fall in the story.

It’s not been often this year that I’ve heard black metal so instantly memorable, and I’ll definitely be hearing The Forlorn Soldier often in the coming days.
Review By: Lord Randall

The Forlorn Soldier
Debemur Morti Productions
4.5 / 6


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