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Forgotten Silence - Bya Bamahe Neem

Forgotten Silence -  CD Review
Bya Bamahe Neem

CD Info
Label: Epidemie Records
5 Tracks
Language: English, Urdu

I’m not sure what it is about death metal that causes so many of its practitioners to eventually seek new avenues of expression. You could look at it in either of two ways, I suppose. The pessimist might say that the genre is so limiting and stifling that no band with a creative nature could confine themselves to it for very long. On the other hand, the optimist might look at death metal as a source of creativity, a fountain constantly giving birth to new bands, many of which will go on to metamorphose into a higher form, much like a caterpillar becoming a beautiful butterfly. But whatever your take on death metal, it is undeniable that it has spawned quite a few bands that have transitioned into something truly remarkable. Just consider what Therion did, or The Gathering, or a host of other bands that have moved into symphonic, gothic, or experimental territory. In that last category we can place Forgotten Silence.

Located in the Czech Republic, Forgotten Silence has been around for some time, since the early 90’s, forming from the ruins of two earlier death bands. Although this EP is my first taste of them, I understand they have quite a reputation as leaders in experimental atmospheric metal, and I can understand why. Bya Bamahe Neem fuses a variety of diverse elements together, elements you might not think could go together, but Forgotten Silence makes it happen. As is common in avant-garde circles, there is use of contrast between louder and quieter passages, but this is accomplished very smoothly, not at all in the sometimes jarring manner of, for instance, Peccatum. So you have long atmospheric, ambient passages which are sometimes punctuated by metal guitar riffs (although not overly aggressive ones). At other times the guitar is beautifully fluid and expressive, sometimes jazz-like, sometimes slightly threatening and sinister. There is no drumming in the ordinary sense, but some tribal-type percussion is used here and there. In one song this is multitracked, making it echo against itself, a nice effect. That song, the last one, is a 17-minute ambient piece that could have come straight from an early Delerium album (and is, unfortunately, about 12 minutes too long for my taste). Overall there is a huge eastern influence in the music, something you may have expected from looking at the cover art. Actually part of the lyrics are in Urdu, so it’s possible one or more band members have origins in India or Pakistan, but I’m not sure about this. At several points these eastern melodies or metal-inspired passages morph into a bossa nova type of sound. These points coincide with highly soothing female vocals that are strongly evocative of “The Girl from Ipanema” or similar music. At other points when this lady is singing I am reminded of some 70’s or 80’s light rock, something like The Carpenters maybe, or…. I don’t really know what. There is a small amount of male vocals also, sometimes in a mild semi-death growl and sometimes in a whisper. Add some occasional synthesizer effects and creepy-sounding strings (cello or violin, not certain), and you will agree this is an extremely odd mixture of musical components. Odd or not though, it works, and this is a huge credit to the band.

If you’re looking to take a detour from the usual musical pathways and try something a bit different, Forgotten Silence may be for you. Whether you’re a metal fan who likes ethnic influences in their music, or a fan of ambient or atmospheric soundscapes, I recommend you give this a listen. My only problem was that last song which is just too long and monotonous. Otherwise, I quite like this, when I’m in the mood for something strange.