|Doom Metal band FORSAKEN, consisting of Leo Stivala (vocals), Albert Bell (bass), Sean Vukovic (guitars), Mario Ellul (Keyboards) and Simeon Gatt (drums) has remained one of the most consistent and long-standing bands in Malta's underground scene throughout its eleven year existence. The band started out as progressive Metallers BLIND ALLEY and the initial line-up, formed in September 1990, featured Leo Stivala (vocals), former Fall Out keyboardist Cay Schembri, Kevin Azzopardi (guitars), Simeon Gatt (drums) and Tony Azzopardi (bass).
The band adopted the epithet FORSAKEN shortly after the recruitment of ex-KREMATION and VANDALS bassist Albert Bell in July 1991. The new line-up set about writing new material that displayed a wide array of Metal-oriented influences. FORSAKEN's first live performance was at the Radio City Hall in Hamrun, Malta on Friday 13 September 1991, co-headlining a gig with local THRASHERS MANSLAUGHTER and EXTREMITY. This gig signalled the re-generation of Malta's underground scene and saw FORSAKEN introducing its own brand of progressive Doom Metal to local enthusiasts.
After this satisfying live debut, the band released its debut demo entitled "Requiem". The demo was a low-budget affair recorded in three days towards the end of December 1991, with Marcel (Ex- BEHEADED vocalist) handling the production. "Requiem" received favourable reviews in a number of foreign fanzines and mags including In My Veins (France), Verbal Aggression (UK), Underground Empire (Germany), Heavy Oder Was? (Germany), Slayer (Norway) and Doomhauled (Canada). It also served to attract a great deal of interest in the band, which culminated in a deal with the French underground independent label Arkham Productions.
The band released a 7" EP on Arkham entitled "Virtues Of Sanctity" in July 199The EP featured a re-worked version of "Where Angels Have Fallen" from the "Requiem" demo and another track called "Confessing My Desolation". "Virtues Of Sanctity" was released to widespread acclaim in the underground scene furthering the band's recognition with Doom Metal enthusiasts worldwide. Prior to the EPs release the band suffered the departure of Cay Schembri (keyboards). However, FORSAKEN immediately recruited Daniel Magri (ex-MANSLAUGHTER) with the intention of forwarding a stronger guitar-based, riff-oriented sound. This line-up remained stable until late 1993 when the band parted company with long-standing guitarist Kevin Azzopardi. As replacement FORSAKEN enlisted the versatile services of Sean Vukovic (FILLETTI & FRIENDS).
FORSAKEN were also the first underground Metal act to play at traditionally Hard Rock venues in Malta such as the Harlequin Rock Club and the Rock Cafe. Between February and March 1994, the band embarked on a tour throughout France and Spain, playing in various cities like Grenoble, Lyon, Paris, Rennes, Lille, Barcelona and Venaros. These dates saw the FORSAKEN teaming up with a number of foreign underground bands including, ODDMONGERS (France), HUMAN WASTE (Spain), MELEM (France) and LONE WOLF (France). The tour was followed with further gigs in Malta and Gozo where the band still thrives from a dedicated horde of followers. In May 1995, another mainstay in the band's repertoire "Moon Dancer" was recorded at Temple Studios (Malta) and was the band's first experience with the famed local producer David Vella. "Moon Dancer" highlighted the band's penchant for emotive lyrical themes and was also FORSAKEN's contribution to the first all-Maltese underground CD compilation "The Storm Has Begun" released on June 24th, 1995 on Storm Records. In a bid to promote the compilation, FORSAKEN, together with a host of Maltese bands, including AMENTIA and BEHEADED, played in a one-off gig with UK doom stalwarts ANATHEMA at the Rick's Nightclub in Paceville on that date.
In February 1997, the band officially released its long-awaited debut CD entitled "Evermore" on Storm Records. The CD was recorded at Temple Studios, and pressed at Prime Studios London, UK. Featuring nine tracks including "Madrigal", "Season's End" and the epic "Winter Tears", "Evermore" received favourable reviews in a number of established zines, including the notable Metallian Mag (France). More recently "Evermore" gained strong reviews on online Metal-oriented sites and e-zines, such as Metal-rules.com (Canada), and Eternal Frost Zine (USA). FORSAKEN's efforts on "Evermore" landed the band with a "best-band" nomination in the 1997 Malta Music Awards -possibly the first occasion where a local Metal act received some sort of recognition at a mainstream-oriented musical event. Shortly afterwards, the band bolstered its line-up by recruiting WEEPING SILENCE founder member Mario Ellul on keyboards and undertook a concerted effort to revamp an extensive musical repertoire.
FORSAKEN were dealt a severe blow on the 4th of January 2001, when Daniel Magri, the band's longest serving guitarist passed away after a long and courageous battle against cancer. Daniel's contribution to the band was indeed outstanding. He had helped to re-orient the band's sound after his recruitment in 1992 and had been instrumental in the composition of several of FORSAKEN's most memorable tracks, including "Confessing My Desolation" and "Rubicon". Despite his illness, Daniel was still highly active in the band, and was central in re-dimensionalising the band's sound on "Neon Knights"- a cover of the monumental Sabbath track off "Heaven And Hell", which the band contributed to a Mk II Black Sabbath tribute entitled "Dehumanized Witch" released on MidWest Metal Production (USA) in 2000. Daniel, however, will not be remembered only for his artistic ingenuity. Apart from being a highly resourceful musician, Daniel was a great friend and his companionship will certainly remain cherished for many years to come and shall leave an indelible mark on the band.
In Feb 2002, FORSAKEN opened a new chapter in their eventful history with the release of a three-track demo simply titled "Demo 2002". The demo, intended solely for promotional purposes, features a re-worked version of the perennial "Where Angels Have Fallen", "Via Crucis" (The Way Of The Cross) and "A Martyr's Prayer". The demo's release was aimed at showcasing the band's contemporary musical direction, which sees FORSAKEN entering into uncharted territory whilst consolidating their Progressive, Doom Metal roots.
Shortly after despatching the demo to various labels, the band was approached by Golden Lake Productions (Scotland, UK) with a concrete offer for a new record deal. Taking into account the label's enterprising status in the UK underground Metal scene and its strong and concrete interest in the band, FORSAKEN felt no hesitation to forge a new partnership with Golden Lake Productions. The band's record deal with Golden Lake saw the band releasing a MCD entitled "Iconoclast" in December 2002 to widespread acclaim. The MCD featured four doom laden tracks recorded at Temple Studios, Mistra Bay, Malta. The MCD's track list includes "Where Angels Have Fallen" "Via Crucis (The Way Of The Cross)", "A Martyr's Prayer" and "Wither The Hour" for a total running time of 35 minutes. In February 2003, the band featured in the first international Doom Metal festival -"Doom Shall Rise", held in Crailsheim Germany and featuring several seminal doom bands including Revelation (USA), Thunderstorm (Italy), Mirror of Deception (Germany) and Reverend Bizarre (Finland). In spite of being the first on German soil, the band's performance was favourably received by those in attendance. Moreover, most review reports on the festival (see doomshallrise.de) described Forsaken's show as one of the most memorable and passionate of this fast-growing, exclusively doom metal two-day event. In November 2003 Forsaken were nominated and voted best heavy rock band in the Malta Music Awards - undoubtedly an important milestone in Forsaken's history.
Throughout this period the band were also heavily engaged at Temple studios laying down the final touches to their new full-length entitled "Anima Mundi" also to be released on Golden Lake Productions. Featuring 7 tracks (including the likes of "Kindred Veil", "Sephiroth", "Carpe Diem" and a re-worked version of "All is Accomplished") for a running time of circa 52 minutes, the album was officially released on 20th February 2004 to very strong acclaim in the metal scene world-wide. This is evidenced by a torrent of positive reviews (see reviews section) and a notable 6th position in the world-wide top 80 metal releases as voted by journalists of the reputable Heavy Oder Was? Metal magazine (Germany). Presently, while embarking on a number of live dates in Malta to support Anima Mundi's release, Forsaken are working on new material in an attempt to ensure that the follow-up to their sophomore album will entrench the band further into the highest echelons of the world-wide doom metal community. An (as yet untitled) new album also to be released on Golden Lake Productions (Scotland) is in fact projected for 2005. Forsaken fans may be assured that the band's forthcoming album will provide another avenue into doom-molten soundscapes!