Forming The Void – Skyward – review

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Forming The Void show that they have the raw ingredients to stand out from the Stoner crowd.

Never judge a book by its cover. It’s a cliché, but in this case nowhere near as much of one as the cover art of Forming The Voids debut ‘Skyward’, with its rather overused goat and druid motifs that had my worrying what kind of unimaginative, derivative sub Electric Wizard crap was in store for me. Fortunately, in this case the cliché holds true, with ‘Skyward’ being a lot more individual and interesting than I had expected from that initial impression.

Far from being yet another ‘we got Big Muffs and Tube Amps so we don’t need songs’ Stoner Doom-athon, this is barely doom at all, carefully straddling the lines of Stoner, Classic and Progressive Rock. All five songs are well crafted, mixing just about the right balance of riffs and quieter sections where the excellent keyboards can shine through.

The quality of musicianship matches the song-writing too. The vocals are very well executed, clean and soaring, but with a little edge of grit that at time almost sounds like Tom Araya of all people. Most of the songs feature a classic style of guitar solo: intricate but melodic, showcasing playing ability without turning into an over the top widdle-fest at the expense of the song. The same goes for all the individual parts really – everything gets its chance to shine at the right moments, never sounding self indulgent, and always adding to the arrangement in a positive way. It really feels like Forming The Void have spent a long time finessing these songs.

The production quality sounds both well polished, crisp and clear, but also the tiniest bit DIY and raw. I’d probably describe it as the best sounding demo production you have ever heard. The CD liner notes don’t go into any details about who recorded the record, or where, but again it feels like the band themselves put quite a lot of time into it, and it has paid off.

My only real criticism would be that while it is certainly not as derivative as its cover art suggests, I’ve heard some of these riffs before in my two decades of listening to Stoner Rock. This is somewhat inevitable however at this point, and Forming The Void really bring their own personality to matters, which is rarer to see nowadays. I also feel that the relatively short running time (just over half an hour) leaves me wanting a little more.

Overall this is a well balanced and enjoyable debut ‘full length’ (the band also released an earlier EP, which, sharing no tracks with the full-length, is probably worth hunting down too). I wouldn’t really offer any sage advice to the band other than to keep doing what they are doing. While it can be hard to stand out in a genre that is so overpopulated in these times, Forming The Void have shown they have the raw ingredients to stand out from the crowd. The CD came with a sticker that I ended up putting on my guitar case, and if that isn’t an endorsement, I don’t know what is!

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