Forlorn World – Umbra

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: October, 2020
Released: 2020, Self-released
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jack Merry

Forlorn World is a melodic death metal outfit formed in July 2019 by frontman and founding member of Bloodshot Dawn, Josh McMorran. With music using soaring guitar melodies whilst mixing dynamic clean and harsh vocals, Josh set out to create something fresh and unique within his own spectrum of creativity and musicality.

This new-found freedom gave Josh the ultimate platform to explore new realms within his musical repertoire, daring to traverse paths previously untouched, which a main musical outlet such as Bloodshot Dawn would naturally avoid due to a certain weight of expectation.

Forlorn World is a narrative backdrop; the story of a man forced to take a dark path, finding revenge and his eventual redemption. The epilogue of a great saga in a fictional universe, based on the world we live in and trials we all face together.

The album entitled Umbra (meaning ‘shadow’ in Latin) is the debut solo project comprised of 7 new melodic death metal songs written, recorded, and mixed by Josh McMorran himself, with mastering and additional mixing coming from acclaimed record producer Jacob Hansen of Hansen Studios (Aborted, Extol, Amaranthe). The album includes guest guitar solos and vocals from Francesco Paoli (Fleshgod Apocalypse), Morgan Reid, Yo Oniytan, and many more, with bass duties covered by Giacomo Gastaldi (Bloodshot Dawn, Darkend).

Umbra wastes little time as a haunting synth melody and subdued guitar lines are swapped out for blast-beat drums and heavy death metal riffs within the opening track’s first minute. ‘Moving Mountains’ is an impressive and breathtaking beast that sets the tone for the entire album. The stellar production helps boost the track further, each instrument is clear in the mix, and I’m glad to say this is the same throughout the record. It sounds immaculate.

‘The Shadowmancer’ sounds like something straight out of the Scar Symmetry songbook, and I mean this in the best way possible. The raging riff featured throughout is an absolute monster, and Josh delivers a powerhouse performance; effortlessly switching between his melodic clean and brutal death metal vocals. The artwork for Umbra, created by Applewhite Art, depicts an epic battle between the main protagonist of the story, ‘The Shadowmancer,’ and an army of 1000 strong. The lyrical concepts within the album touch on modern politics and social observations that are woven into an adventure following a wizard that seeks revenge in a universe of portals, trolls, and medieval civilisation.

‘March into Void’ is an excellent track with a riff that rattles around the brain and, at the 2:50 mark, delivers a breakdown section that would make Machine Head blush, while ‘Traveller’ sets a mood of longing, yearning for a time of hopefulness, during its extended melodic passages. You’ve probably guessed by now, but the guitar work throughout Umbra is sublime. Solos soar atop gorgeous synth melodies and crushing rhythm patterns, and there’s a heavy ‘crunch’ to the vast majority of the riffs that is hard not to appreciate.

Umbra can best be described as the bastard love child of Dream TheaterSoilwork, and Scar Symmetry. Weaving a fantastical narrative tail amongst equally devastating and beautiful musical passages is no easy feat, but Forlorn World has smashed it right from the outset. Will The Shadowmancer get his revenge, and achieve his redemption? You’ll have to listen to find out!


01. Moving Mountains
02. The Shadowmancer
03. Before the End
04. March into Void
05. Traveller
06. Pillars of Eternity
07. Umbra

Band line up:
Josh McMorran – Vocals, guitars
Guests – Other instruments