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Forever Autumn – Hail, The Forest Dark

Forever Autumn
Hail, The Forest Dark
by Gary Hernandez at 23 July 2021, 4:21 PM

FOREVER AUTUMN is a Doom/Folk Metal project out of Massachusetts, US. Having said that, the project, led by multi-instrumentalist Autumn Ni Dubhghaill, doesn’t limit themselves to a single subgenre but rather explore other spaces in the wide Metal universe. Case in point is their latest release, due out in September 2021, a three-track EP entitled “Hail, the Forest Dark.” On this album, FOREVER AUTUMN ventures into the Black Metal realm, an area which Autumn has said she has always wanted to delve.

“Hail, the Forest Dark” is something of a departure from FOREVER AUTUMN’s previous efforts. The album cover is the first sign of what to expect. The stark black and white photo is of Autumn taken by Autumn. She’s in a pose reminiscent of the classic Baphomet stance: one hand up with hails and horns; the other forward with an eminence of light. The next sign might be the song titles, which suggest more of a nihilist bent than a pagan heralding. Or not. That might just be me reading into it because I know what’s coming. The final sign, of course, is the music itself which features archetypal Black Metal signatures, though more aligned with Atmospheric Black Metal than First Wave or Second Wave. There’s plenty of grayscape distortion and banshee vocals but no tremolo riffing or blast beat percussion.

The album features several surprises. Aaron Stainthorpe (MY DYING BRIDE) is a guest vocalist. Also featured is some cello action from Jon McGrath. While I am not a huge wind instrument fan, I do love the evocative ambiance stringed instruments like cello and violin bring to Metal. Jon does a superb job at providing additional layering which weaves in and out of the tracks like a shifting presence in your peripheral vision.

I do like all the songs on this twenty-minute EP, but my favorite by far is “The Firmament in Absence.” The track is also the final song as well as the longest. First, I love the paradoxical title. Great name for a novel that Sartre never wrote but should have or a lost Ingmar Bergman movie done in black and white and silent. Second, this is probably the most blackened and heaviest off all the tracks on the album. I know those are subjective terms and other listeners may disagree, but that’s my take. Third, it has a recurrent solo that is as gorgeous as it is haunting. It probably comes the closest to tremolo than anything else on the album as well.

Production-wise the album emulates traditional Black Metal lo-fi values. Lyrically, I have no idea apart from the spoken word portions. My ears are far too detuned and abused to discern actual words from Black Metal howling . . . but I did dig the vibe. I do know the lyrics were all by Autumn, except for some additional lyrics on “Listless Pacings of the Haunt” by Stainthorpe.

Altogether, “Hail, the Forest Dark” is solid offering. This was my first exposure to FOREVER AUTUMN, and I am pleased to say it was a good one. I’ll definitely be exploring the rest of her catalogue (four full-length albums and four demos), and I recommend you do the same. I wish I could share a video from the album, but alas, none was to be found—at least not on YouTube. I did find, however, a way cool Black Metal cover Autumn did of “Bela Lugosi” (BAUHAUS). Enjoy.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.  Listless Pacings of the Haunt
2.  Amoung the Roots
3.  The Firmament in Absence
Lineup:
Autumn Ni Dubhghaill – Vocals, guitars, bass, dodhrán, drums
Jon McGrath – Cello
Record Label: Independent
     


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Edited 21 September 2021
 

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