Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Forgotten Gods – Twin Sisters

San Jose’s Forgotten Gods are perhaps one of the Bay Area heavy music scene’s best kept secrets.  I first discovered Forgotten Gods while attending a show earlier this year in San Jose with Ripple Music standouts Blackwülf and the mighty Mos Generator, and I was impressed with Forgotten Gods’ live set, which speaks volumes as those are no easy acts to follow.  In keeping with the tradition of classic power trios the likes of Cream, Rush, and King’s X, Forgotten Gods have a sound that makes people think “that sounds like more than three guys…”  Truth be told, though their sound falls more in the wondrous realm somewhere between Doom Metal and Stoner Rock there is a bit of good old-fashioned Prog Rock and a pinch of Psych Rock underlying throughout Twin Sisters, their 2015 sophomore follow-up to the equally doomy-stonery-proggy-psychy (psyche? Ha!) full-length 2013 debut disc Fall of the Dagger.  Recently I stated in another forum “Forgotten Gods make the kind of music I would want to make myself…great riffs, strong songwriting with sci-fi lyrics…” what’s not to like? 
The album begins with title track “Twin Sisters”, an up-tempo wah-filled kick-starter full of moments of Sabbathy goodness with a NWOBHM gallop running throughout.  The doomier “Bad Magick” is up next, a mid-tempo chugger followed by “Hole In The Moon” a straightforward up-tempo hard-rocker, with a half-time breakdown at the end that takes it to a heavier, doomier level.  “Coyote” is a groovier stoner-rock song switching between backbeat verses and straight time choruses with riffs that remind me of Corrosion of Conformity and Rage Against the Machine which are some of my favorite riffs on the album.  The standout ten-minute doom epic “Kaleidoscope Woman” has a host of Sabbathy riffs punctuated with one of the best middle section breakdowns my ears have heard in a long time, and also features an eerie sounding spoken narrative at the beginning which to me evokes similarities with the beginning of Rush’s “The Necromancer” from 1975’s underrated Caress of Steel (yeah, they pretty much had me right there…).  “Sleeping Panther” is another up-tempo rocker with more straight-ahead stoner-rock vibe, with great riffs and furious drumming, and album closer “Return My Bones” is a doomy-psych masterpiece with tempo changes between slower verses and faster choruses, again highlighted by a fantastic middle section breakdown leading into an ending that builds and builds to a mid-tempo finale with a guitar melody dripping with vibrato and Iommi-esque licks. 
Guitarist/vocalist Dave Stoltenberg delivers a steady stream of riffs throughout, punctuated with riffs and solos layered with effects that evoke the aforementioned prog/psych vibe one moment, crunchy and punishing the next, with a melodic vocal approach somewhat reminiscent at times of J.D. Cronise of The Sword.  Bassist Pete Rice’s bass lines and drummer Kevin Swartz’s focused and powerful drumming provide a foundation that complements Stoltenberg’s guitar riffs perfectly, while the production by Tim Green is straightforward and even a bit airy and gives the music room to breathe.
If I had to pick one thing that stands out to me on Twin Sisters it would have to be the middle and end of song breakdowns.  Forgotten Gods have a knack for crafting deliciously groovy, heavy, riffy changes of tempo, in all seriousness, every song here seems to have a section that gets my hands air-guitaring and my head bobbing with a giant grin on my face.
-The Riffcaster

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