TONGUES – Formløse Stjerner (Album Review)

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Tongues’ sophomore album, “Formløse Stjerner,” or “Formless Stars,” officially dropped this summer. Founded in 2012, Tongues hail from Aarhus, Denmark. Their style includes elements of death, black, and doom metal. The quirky and progressive “Formløse Stjerner” is certainly laced with glorious rock-and-roll vibes as well. “Formløse Stjerner” stands as a thoroughly enjoyable offering that should appeal to most metalheads.

“Formløse Stjerner” consists of four compositions — ‘Elder Fire,’ ‘Awake in the Macrochasm,’ ‘Mouth of the Deep,’ and ‘Formløse Stjerner.’ As their titles imply, the first three songs are in English and the final track is in Danish. The well-balanced numbers flow seamlessly into one another, yet they are sufficiently different to keep listeners engaged. They feature pleasing nuances and a fair amount of shifts, which sometimes catch us by surprise and can have a trippy charm. 

The songs are often intended to engulf the readers in the maw of the void. Yet, on “Formløse Stjerner,” Tongues incorporate a broad palette of colors. Cold and heat intertwine. The album begins with an eerie ambient intro before the aggression confidently kicks in. From there, “Formløse Stjerner” holds listeners in a headlock. It quickly becomes apparent that “Formløse Stjerner” is dissonant and nightmarish. Tongues create disturbing atmospheres and effective melodies. There are even some nice grooves, as on ‘Formløse Stjerner.’

All of the musicians display competence. The bass provides a stable anchor. When they arise, the beautiful guitar solos elicit admiration. The end of ‘Elder Fire’ is one such moment. The entrancing opening of ‘Formløse Stjerner’ is another. Granted, the riffs could be more memorable. The drums are good, though not especially hard-hitting. “Formløse Stjerner” does include nicely used synths. No, the various elements do not always dazzle as one might hope. The production seems to serve the aims of the musicians. The sound isn’t over-polished, yet it still comes across as professional.

For the most part, the vocals are powerful and fiery. The poetic and cerebral lyrics, which were penned by drummer C. Qvortrup, are well-crafted. It’s clear that Tongues strove to make a profound and meaningful record: “From the mouth of the deep, The strange calm beckons, A silent world void of dissent.” Nevertheless, the lines that are being uttered can seem a bit at odds with their harsh delivery. Or rather, the performances are not always that convincing. There are moments on ‘Awake in the Macrochasm,’ for example, that lose me.

“Formløse Stjerner” Artwork

This track, which, yes, boasts some entrancing guitar work, has an avant-garde flavor. Avant-garde impulses can be found elsewhere on the album as well. However, it could be said that the team doesn’t lean into them enough to fully embrace them and push the limits. At times, frontman A. Lovmand tests his abilities with shrieks, gasps, and other types of sounds. Yet, his attempts fall flat when you compare them to those of truly versatile experimental masters, such as Dødsengel’s Kark and Dødheimsgard’s Vicotnik. Indeed, in places, “Formløse Stjerner” is a bit reminiscent of Dødheimsgard, though there is simply no comparison. ‘Formløse Stjerner,’ nonetheless, provides some redemption, ending the album on a solid note. It is an epic monster that lasts for over fifteen and a half minutes. This composition works its black magic at a generally slow pace and even includes a bit of chanting. The opus fades away slowly, lending a, dare I say, spiritual quality.  

“Formløse Stjerner” feels fresh and modern while retaining nostalgic elements. Many listeners will love the aforementioned mix of styles present on the record. However, “Formløse Stjerner” might be viewed by some as a watered-down, albeit successful, blend of ingredients, as opposed to something that bears an especially unique and strong voice. Again, it seems that Tongues could have achieved something greater had they been more daring. It feels like they held back a bit in their submission to darkness, for instance. As a partial result of this, “Formløse Stjerner”’s potential to impact listeners emotionally is about average. Shining’s “Shining,” on the other hand, is an example of a new extreme metal masterpiece that explores authentic darkness while also incorporating much truly painful beauty. It sets the gold standard in that respect and others. That said, based on “Formløse Stjerner,” it seems that Tongues should have a bright future, even though they have remained under the radar.

Released By: I, Voidhanger Records 
Release Date: July 28
Genre: Black / Death / Doom metal

“Formløse Stjerner” Track-Listing:

  1. Elder Fire
  2. Awake in the Macrochasm 
  3. Mouth of the Deep 
  4. Formløse Stjerner

Musicians:

  • A. Lovmand / Vocals  
  • C. Qvortrup / Drums
  • T. Lovmand / Bass, guitars, keys 

Guests

  • E. Nyboe / Additional guitars 
  • Nohr / Bass (tracks 1 and 3)

Order “Formløse Stjerner” HERE.

8.1 Great

Tongues' “Formløse Stjerner” provides a pleasant mix of elements and stands as a strong effort. Many listeners are bound to find “Formløse Stjerner” highly enjoyable and even refreshing. However, there have been various albums this year that prove much more rewarding.

  • Songwriting 8
  • Musicianship 8
  • Originality 8
  • Production 8.5
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