Review || A River Crossing - "Forsaken"


Let me preface this by saying that I'm usually very picky with post sounds and not the easiest person to sit through an entire track if I start losing interest. That being said, I also tend to approach very gingerly the releases of that genre, knowing quite well that while the sky is the limit when it comes to experimenting and pushing boundaries, some bands tend to play safe by adhering to the teaching of the trailblazers they look up to.

A River Crossing‚ however, didn't do any of those things which I'm extremely grateful for. The Swiss quartet released their sophomore album, "Forsaken", on March 26 2021 via Antigony Records and it was a very refreshing approach to an otherwise land mine of a sound. 

The first thing the listener will notice is that the album is not musically sombre. Sure, the emotive, melancholic parts are dominant on all 6 tracks but the atmosphere not once becomes overwhelming or suffocating. Accordingly, the vocals are beautiful and at times haunting. I particularly appreciate the lack of screams, as the cleans allow a greater expression and the singer's agility in his high register seems to work to the band's advantage. The build-ups are accompanied by big choruses which are inspired and do not feel repetitive or dull. At the same time, the structure underneath is complex but nuanced in a way that even non-buffs like myself can appreciate the artful blending of the fineness and heaviness of the compositions. 

As expected, a good portion of the album is dedicated to instrumental parts and, while the listener could expect an obscure blanket, A River Crossing choose to subtly touch on alt rock ideas and prog patterns to communicate the rather stunning variation of influences on the album. The songwriting is intelligent and very creative, formidably executing catchy yet harmonious melodies over an atmospheric, ever-changing soundscape. Lyrically, the journey is a little more intense and maybe even morose at times, with a crippling feeling of helplessness and anxiety, projected through a cynical, almost nihilistic prism. The stark contrast of the troubling inner turmoil and lack of excruciatingly slow and heavy music is brilliant and works miracles in how easily the songs flow.

In general, it takes nerve and a lot of confidence to break out of expectations of a genre, but A River Crossing has done a very impressive job disassociating from clichés and exploring a vast soundscape without losing focus of the core elements that make this album shine. "Forsaken" is a well-rounded work that a lot of thought has clearly gone into. If songs of this quality is what the second album has to offer, I am already looking froward to album #3. 

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