Another day in 2020, another incredible black metal release. This time, we’re heading from Europe to Indonesia, where multi-instrumentalist Januaryo Hardy has been making his excellent brand of atmospheric black metal since 2014 under the name Pure Wrath. This time around, he has chosen to focus on a disturbingly dark period of Indonesian history, shining a dark light on the genocides that took place in the country in the 1960’s. Specifically, the EP tales the sordid tale of an entire family “vanished” by nationalist forces. The medium, as always, is the message and Hardy’s blistering type of black is the perfect vessel through which to tell this haunting tale. The Forlorn Soldier, despite being a three track EP, is a heavy and loaded release, carrying emotional weight in the story it tells but also in how it tells it. Head on over the jump for your first listen!
From the get-go, The Forlorn Soldier wastes absolutely no time in getting started. But it’s on the second track that it really hits its stride. “Children of the Homeland” brings together all the elements which make this EP great into fruition; first, there are the incredibly potent and omni-present synths, doing great work to manifest the grandeur of the black metal in question. Second, the abrasive vocals take on a painful, raw quality on this track, even more than other places on the album; Hardy’s almost cracks open at certain points, revealing the anguish in telling this horrible story. Lastly, the drums and the guitar create the “classic” black metal sound, the tried and true sawing tremolo and furious blast-beat, bringing everything together into one caustic canvas. Watch out especially for the riff which starts right after the five minute mark; it’s brilliant.
Put together, while The Forlorn Soldier is “just” an EP, it does excellent work in creating a deep and exploration worthy release. If you use it as a springboard to read more about the complex history of Indonesia, it can serve as a window into a country we don’t often write or hear about in the West. But even on its own, using its musical expression alongside its lyrics, The Forlorn Soldier does a fantastic job of conveying the grief that is too often the defining attribute of national histories. On top of all of that, it’s a damn fine piece of black metal.
The Forlorn Soldier releases on the 6th of March, via the illustrious Debemur Morti. You can head on over to the Bandcamp page above to pre-order it or visit the label directly in North America and Europe.