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Forest of Shadows - Among the Dormant Watchers Award winner

Forest of Shadows
Among the Dormant Watchers
by Martin Knap at 21 January 2019, 3:17 AM

We all have a little snob in us who likes to discover underrated bands and “be in on the secret,” that normies don’t have any idea about. This kind of egotism aside, there are bands that are truly underrated, or they are just not the kind of material that is cut out to be a big commercial success – they will never play big headliner shows, but they still have a loyal fan base that will give the band an almost unconditional support. It’s the beauty of “underground music,” that one can discover these high-quality, non-cookie bands. Well FOREST OF SHADOWS seems to me to be such a band: it’s a one-man project that doesn’t seem to have played live much, and the releases come out sporadically as it fits the author instead of as the invisible hand of the market dictates.

But this new release “Among the Dormant Watchers,” that’s coming out ten years after the previous full-length LP, is certainly not to be overlooked. Niclas Frohagen, the man behind the project, writes tasteful Melodic Doom/Death similar to KATATONIA, SWALLOW THE SUN, SATURNUS etc. The qualifier “melodic” is important here, because emotion and melody are indeed central in his music. Frohagen previously had a band with FRACTAL GATES guitarist Stéphane Peudupin (because they lived in different countries they worked together via the internet back in 1997!), so he has loose connections to ENSHINE or COLD DISTANCE (via Sebastien Pierre), and his music also reminds me of the thick, melancholic atmosphere of these two bands.

The album opens with a over ten minutes long song “Self Inflicted Torment”. Longer compositions are not exceptional in this genre and indeed we get not one but three songs over ten minutes long, two shorter ones (circa five and a half minutes) and two that are in between. The song starts out super heavy, but not long after the opening the song shifts to a soft, melancholic section with a clean, weepy vocal melody. The song slows down and then builds up again before the explosive, emotional chorus comes. The song has some nice lead guitar melodies and a lovely tender outro – it almost has the prettiness of later ANATHEMA. We hear these tender melodies in many other songs as well, like right in the intro of the following song “Drowned by Guilt”. In the beginning the song builds up slowly to a heavy Death/Doom section with growled vocals. In the middle of the song things slow down and the song goes full-on instrumental, before closing with a brief section with slow, heavy riffs and growls. The instrumental section with nice guitar and synth leads stands out.

The third song “Lost Within,” has to be my favorite. It’s relatively short (circa six minutes), and relatively up-tempo for Doom – it feels more like melancholic, atmospheric Melodic Death Metal. The verse is dark, stripped down, it has a bit of a Goth Rock vibe, the chorus on the other hand is huge, with a crunchy, melodic, catchy guitar riff. It has a softer instrumental mid-section after which comes an intense section with blast beats. “Dogs of Chernobyl” may be one of the monotonous songs here, but the riffs are catchy and the atmosphere sucks you. After a soft, atmospheric section the tempo picks up and there is a buildup to a cathartic finale. The first half of “We the Shamelles” sounds like a Goth ballad, the second half is heavier, but the song keeps its melancholic tone. It is simple but catchy, jut as the following song “Lullaby,” which has a nice, dreamy melody, as the title suggest. The album closes with the longest song on the album “Yours to Devour”.  It is also rather minimalist, but the riffs and melodies are memorable, and ends in an emotional buildup/climax.

This music is right up my alley, but I think any fan of the genre will agree with me that about the high quality of this release. It may be too sentimental for some people’s tastes, but I enjoy being lulled by the simple but strong melodies and enwrapped by the thick atmosphere. If this album doesn’t deserve a high score, then I don’t know what does.

Songwriting: 9
Memorability: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Self Inflicted Torment
2. Drowned by Guilt
3. Lost Within
4. Dogs of Chernobyl
5. We, the Shameless
6. Lullaby
7. Yours to Devour
Niclas Frohagen - Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Programming
Record Label: Inverse Records


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Edited 04 October 2022

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