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Forwardhead – Pieces

Label: Hard Volume Records
Format: CD
Released: 2007
Reviewed By: The Goat


Every so often, a virtually unknown band comes along and demonstrates an ability and a skill beyond the likes of which I have encountered before (see Crown the Lost for evidence). Such a release is likely to outshine some of the more establish artists that I review. I really should get over my surprise when this occurs but I digress…

 

OK, so imagine if Mudvayne decided to jam with Tool in earnest (yeah, I know what you're thinking, am I on a jamming band analogy kick or what?). Do you have that image in your head? Like Keenan's angst-ridden croon in harmony with Chad's Layne Staley-like thing going?

This is precisely what Forwardhead sound like. They carry the same tonal qualities as Tool and Mudvayne, that "plunge into the depths of the psyche to re-encounter inner turmoil and psychological pain and arise with deeper understanding of Self" kind of thing. Forwardhead have this in spades. Add some Planet caravan effects and you got an interesting twist on this style in the song 'Cycle'. I mean, listen to the riffage and tribalish drumming towards the end, is that not totally Tool?

'Binary', the next song, carries in this direction but with the added programming but it still is Tool's template that they are working from. Thing is, it is really well done. One might be inclined to yell "RIP-OFF!" but somehow they make this sound work for them and treat it with a freshness that is quite startling to a jaded metalhead like myself. Perhaps, this may be due to some degree of dissatisfaction with Tool and Mudvayne's recent output and the need for more of this style to be out there or I just really dig this sound. In fact, if you really think about it, how many bands out there sound like Tool and Mudvayne? Forwardhead certainly puts their release in this niche market.

The acoustic guitars that add such delicate rhythm to 'Unrest' give the song an edgy tension that is a remarkable display of pacing. Forwardhead are truly studied in the Tao of Tool to be able to pull this off. The acoustic guitars return in the gentle 'Hope and Pray' which has a very Sabbath-y vibe to it. It is quite haunting until it changes into a darker pleading when the guitars thicken.

Forwardhead don't stay shoe gazer on all the tracks. '11th Hour' demonstrates some excellent guitar licks that are quite reminiscent of guitar heroes of the past. While totally instrumental, it is almost a power metal sounding tune with a whole lot of whammy bar action happening and ending on a superb Eddie Van Halen sounding twiddling.

Disappointingly, I have no certainty in knowing how accessible this release is to the public. I had not heard of their label prior to receiving this release, which is a damn shame because it sounds like they are going to promote this release really well. The paper that came with the CD suggests a really cool packaging in the form of a digipak format. The little picture of the cover art looks similar to Travis Smith Seempieces' stuff.

Although, I would strongly recommend listening to this song on gloomy, nearly going to rain days. Otherwise, you just won't get the same vibe about the songs that I did.

 
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