Ever get that sensation you’re hurtling through the sky at an incomprehensible speed as shattered pieces of a space shuttle obliterated just moments after take-off? That you’re carving red-hot streaks across the once-pristine blue in every conceivable direction, before falling back down to terra firma as ash? The odds are, unless you’ve consumed a large quantity of psychoactive substance, that no you have not…except when those notes hit you with the force of ten Fat Boys. These are the notes that explode upon impact, knocking you for six, dissipating just in time for the next one; notes which leave you feeling small, insignificant even, in the grand scheme of things. Against the tremendous force Louisiana’s Forming the Void wield on fourth record Reverie you and I, dear listener, are merely nothing more than a couple of dust particles caught in the crosshairs of an impending storm, ripped apart at the subatomic level, and confined to nothingness as each note marches forever onward.
For four albums now these impeccable Lafayette gentlemen have learnt only to harness their staggering power, taming it enough to wield with bombastic precision yet still wild enough to never quiet its earth-shattering stampede. With each successive album they bestow upon your ears these wallops becomes ever more devastating; here on Reverie there is nothing standing between you and every consecutive hammer blow, gaining perpetual momentum until the vessel struggling to contain its cataclysmic energy can no longer manage. As the record progresses from near-primal blasts to ejecting kaleidoscopic vibrancy until its monumental close, the forms their cosmic power manifests never lose an ounce of strength yet the boundaries of space-time become unhinged, unable to withstand such force. Forming the Void have always possessed such extraordinary gifts but never quite as transcendental as they appear here: the sound is gigantic and beyond expansive, swelling into four-dimensional space and blooming with psychedelic furor.
Heavier than two colliding stars swirling deeper into their gravitational fields, Reverie kicks off with a collosal bang: ‘Sage’, simply put, levels the playing field, reducing every temporary structure to rubble with unfounded intensity. Straight away vocalist/guitarist James Marshall commands a domineering presence; just as majestic as his fellow shaman in Mastodon, Torche, and Elder, he delivers a jaw-dropping performance across the entire span of the record, captivating from the word ‘go’, leaving you hanging on his every word. Alongside him stands Shadi Omar Al Khansa and together they push the boundaries of the physical with bone-shattering fuzz as they blitz ‘Onward Through The Haze’. Arguably though it is the following couplet where the record reaches its peak intensity: Mastodon-esque ‘Trace The Omen’ simultaneously possesses a universal embrace and a sweeping aura bursting with technicolour vibrancy from the seams whilst the rampant wizardry of ‘Manifest’ is a tour-de-force of insterstellar might which marches deeper into the darkness, lighting up even the most decrepit of corners.
But if you thought for a moment this was all over, think again. Jaunty ‘Electric Hive’ deals out a gargantuan supply of stomping riffs to push the rest of the record into overdrive. From here on out Reverie begins to slow but never eases up, for both ‘Ancient Satellite’ and ‘The Ending Cometh’ make for a glorious send-off, cloaking the world in brooding colours with phenomenal grace and, as the last of its nuclear energy is burnt up leaving us in the dark, we’re left with an urge to hit that play button from the start just one more time….
Such a feast for the senses, Reverie situates itself as Forming the Void’s Crack the Skye, bedazzling denizens with a perfect marriage of fuzzed-out heaviness and celestial craftsmanship. It is the culmination of seven years of meditative exploration, finally finding themselves gazing into the eyes of God and realizing their deepest potential. Few records in 2020 have exploded with such magnificent force and left us, and our ego as a race, battered, bruised, yet ultimately blissed. If this does not catapult them to sonic nirvana then I don’t know what will.