Sound — 7
The Blackest, the new CD from Hotfoot Records recording artist Always & Forever, couldn't be more bestial and caustic if Attila The Hun recorded it himself. Lead vocalist Davey Muise slaughters with a piercing sharpness that fans of hardcore and death metal will worship. The bombardment of puncturing cuts and bruising battering from guitarists Eric Guilbert and Albert Dean incite dark seething emotions, and the barrage of shooting pellets from bassist Ethan Harrison and drummer Bryan Nowell are ferocious carving out a craggy landscape that those lacking determination fear to tread. The music conjures up a vision of what Hell must be like with flames shooting out of every spore and daggers slicing with a madman's temper while surrounding the listener by walls of screams that torment and blare at ear-splitting frequencies. The band's rage is brutal, their animalistic groans are primal and their pounding is unyielding. It is a kill or be killed environment and the band shows no signs of letting down their guard.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are fused by continuous battles and knife-fighting as the verses reveal the struggle between man vs. man. The song Diaries Of A Dead Man depicts the turmoil infested by this conflict, This is a battle for the ages / This is a fight all too familiar / Most hearts will parish, but many will to see the day their better half is whipped away / Women and children will die first and men will prove their worth / So grab your armor and ex cusses / Meet me on the front lines / A battle so intense / Cheapened by cheating on both sides / The time is now / This score needs settling. The lyrics also sometimes delve into the scenario when defeat is eminent like in Oh The Wicked Webs We Weave as Muise envisions, Eight legged beast desire / Spin me in your web of lies and passion / Intoxicate me with your scent / My visions blurred / My guard is down / It's time to claim your prey / I'm in a weakened state / I'm not quite dead yet.
Overall Impression — 7
The heavy-handed method of playing which Always & Forever apply to their songwriting incites terror and inflames the darker emotions of humanity creating scenes of smoldering brimstone and merciless whipping. Razor-sharp and harrowing, The Blackest is archetypal of death metal and hardcore blends. It is not that the band had made anything new, but they have brought this blend into contemporary times extracting familiar sounds of torture from past breeds and adding their own vigor and sauciness to the mixture. The album projects images of wallowing in an abyss filled with suffering and eternal damnation as if it was written to bring Dante's Inferno from his book Divine Comedy back to life. The connection between the two pieces of work is eerie, and makes one think that the struggle of man vs. man is never-ending.