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De Arma - "Lost, Alien & Forlorn" (CD)

De Arma - "Lost, Alien & Forlorn" CD cover image

"Lost, Alien & Forlorn" track listing:

1. The Tower (7:09)
2. Left to Hide (7:00)
3. Watching the Walls Come Down (6:49)
4. Fires of Hope (2:18)
5. Behind These Filthy Panes (6:20)
6. Wretch (8:12)
7. Dislocated (4:56)

Reviewed by on July 19, 2013

"Though the vocals are great, and there are some moments where the band seems to know how to deliver their sound, most songs jet by with little excitement."

De Arma could be given the title of being black metal (or post black metal, if you want to throw pointless sub-genres around), though they relate more to the attitudes of a Tiamat or Katatonia. Their music is expressive, prolonged and branching out without stepping away from the winter-esque landscape it conjures up. The vocals are light, easy prey for harmonizing, and a perfect fit for the music. “Lost, Alien & Forlorn” won’t light up the mood with energy or an abundance of tremolo-backed aggression, but is a largely passive, subdued affair.

“Behind These Filthy Panes” is the exception, opening up an epicenter of swirling mayhem. It’s the lone time on the album where the band uses the mannerisms of traditional black metal. Though considering it takes the band until track five to do it, the whole “let’s get all kvlt with our music” seems a bit out of character for De Arma. What works better is the powerful, raspy screams that have a large presence on all the songs.

“Lost, Alien & Forlorn” gets successful results out of the vocal clashing between a smooth croon and a harsh bite. “Watching the Walls Come Down” pulls this off the best, and having strong vocal support is a benefit for De Arma. They handle this aspect of their music better than the average riffs and predictable songwriting. The songs come and go, and though there are some catchy moments, it’s not enough to hold up the album to its conclusion.

The individual tracks have enough going for them to keep some kind of interest going, but not for very long. “The Tower” is a suitable anthem to represent the direction of the album, though a jarring break a few minutes in kills the pacing. “Left To Hide” has a more capable drive to it that leads up to a great harmonic vocal section. At eight minutes, “Wretch” exceeds its early potential; in fact, “Dislocated” covers more ground in half the time. It might be just a weird coincidence that the shortest track on the album, “Fires of Hope,” gets to the point in the most efficient way possible.

Though not a total error of mass proportions, “Lost, Alien & Forlorn” doesn’t hit the right chords. Though the vocals are great, and there are some moments where the band seems to know how to deliver their sound, most songs jet by with little excitement. The lack of a gripping atmosphere, like something from an Alcest or Anathema, hinders the effect “Lost, Alien & Forlorn” has on a listener. It’s an album that could have been so much more, but there’s enough here to get at least a play or two out of it.

Highs: Great vocal harmonies, band aims for a more atmospheric side of black metal, enough catchy moments to be remembered

Lows: The few black metal-centric parts feel forced, songs are too long, missed potential throughout

Bottom line: “Lost, Alien & Forlorn” has stellar vocals and a couple of worthwhile bits, but the album misses the mark more than it should.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)