Antestor, Antestor,... where to begin? First, let's have a little history lesson. They have had a rich history in Norway since they began (under the name "Crush Evil") in 1990. However, unlike most bands at their time, Antestor was an unblack metal band (For the uneducated in black metal, black metal is considered an anti-Christian, Satanic genre with a LOT of controversy behind it, so Christians decided to make a Christian version of the genre, called "unblack metal"). Due to their religious backgrounds, they were the focus of much controversy: Christians feared them due to their dark music, and the general black metal scene was determined to cut their career short. In fact, Euronymous, the controversial guitarist from the even more controversial band Mayhem, was determined to shut down this early form of Antestor (Until bandmate Varg
Vikernes murdered him in 1993). At the start, Antestor had a more doom/death sound to them. However, as they approached their first album, Martyrium, they took on an (un)blackened death metal sound. With their next album, Return of the Black Death, they combined doom with viking metal (a derivative of black metal). Now, with 2005's The Forsaken, they have taken on a symphonic (un)black metal sound. The question is: How did it do?
Now that we have finished up Antestor's history, let the reivew begin. First off, let us consider the guest acts: First of all, you have Mayhem's Hellhammer (!!!!!) playing on drums throughout the whole album. I don't listen to Mayhem (And NEVER will), but ask a fan of theirs about Hellhammer's skill level, and they will likely tell you that he is beyond a pro, and for good reason; his drumwork is undeniably amazing throughout the whole album, probably explaining why Antestor hired him as a session drummer for this album. In addition to the drummer, The 3rd and the Mortal's Ann-Mari Edvardsen appears to perform operatic vocals on a few tracks. The inclusion of her vocals on the album adds an extra layer of denseness to the already-powerful symphonic elements, and her voice is so perfect.
Time for the tracks themselves; if you have ever heard any form of symphonic black metal, you might have an idea of what this album sounds like; the lead vocals are either shrieked or sung with clean vocals, the bass is fast all the way through, the drums are relentless, and the guitar is both fast and relentless. Therefore, chaotic metal plays in front of you while many various symphinic elements, ranging from stringed instruments to a choir, can be noticed in the bbackground. The album is unique for one major reason; guitar solos are rare in black/unblack metal, but many tracks have solos (All of which do their job). Their are only two tracks on the album that are not a furious mess of metal; "Raade" and "Mitt Hjerte," which are beautiful, symphonic instrumentals (Yeah, these tracks, for the most part, lack the main instruments, and usually consist of just the symphonic elements and even a few operatic notes from our friend Ann (No lyrics to it, though; just singing)). As far as the quality of the tracks, I don't know what to say; they are all pretty amazing, they are perfectly paced, none of them are too long to be enjoyable (or too short), etc., etc., etc.,... Everything I can say about the tracks is positive. However, there may be a few negatives for people who aren't far into the metal world; it could be too intense for you. My advice for such people? Listen to classic heavy metal until you are ready for speed metal; listen to speed until you are ready for thrash; listen to thrash until you are ready for death; once you listen to enough death, you are surely ready for The Forsaken.
As I said before, everything that can be said about the tracks is positive. Naturally, this ten track, 44 minute album is an almost perfect metal album that I can't find complaints for. If you aren't ready for this brutal, savage, Christian album, listen to what I told you to listen to. If you despise unblack metal because you are a black metal purist, then either listen to it or GTFO; it's a fantastic, recommendable album, secular or Christian. This is easily Antestor's best effort, and there is only one score I can give The Forsaken:
P.S. I was listening to this album while typing most of this review, just because it's so great! For the first 14 minutes, though, I was listening to Crimson Moonlight's In Depths of Dreams Unconscious EP (Another FANTASTIC unblack metal album, which you can digitally download for like $4; get both The Forsaken and IDDU now!)