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Forgotten Woods – As the Wolves Gather (Reissue) + Sjel Av Natten Award winner

Forgotten Woods
As the Wolves Gather (Reissue) + Sjel Av Natten
by Lauren Fonto at 18 July 2017, 7:34 AM

“As the Wolves Gather” and “Sjel Av Natten” are two notable contributions to the history of Norwegian black metal, and were both recorded in 1994. The “Sjel Av Natten” EP would be released the following year (1995). These two recordings have been re-released as a compilation by ATMF. Band member Rune Vedaa has stated that the ATMF releases are the official versions.

FORGOTTEN WOODS’ style of black metal can be described as depressive suicidal black metal (DSBM), with a distinctive melodic component to it. For me, the band balances the different styles well throughout the album; neither style ever makes the other seem out of place. While much of the music has an air of resignation, there are moments of defiance as well. This re-release retains the rough, old-school-style production as far as I could tell, and I think it’s a good thing. The various parts seem to be well-placed in the mix, with the prominent bass adding gravitas to the music.

“Through Dark and Forgotten Valleys” is a highlight of “As the Wolves Gather” (ATWG). Its spry melody makes for an interesting contrast with the more subdued “Svartedauden”. “…Forgotten Valleys” is an earworm of note. The song transitions into a haunting slower interlude, and a repeating guitar riff conjures a feeling of a longing for some distant past. Opening track “Eclipsed” is a great track as well. And on “Sjel Av Natten” (SAN), “En Natt Med Storm Og Ravners Skrik” was the standout track. Neige’s raspts are chilling and inhuman (in the best possible way), and the clean chants have a ghostly feel. The rasped vocals on both “ATWG” and “SAN” add to the coldness and atmosphere of the music, and I’d go so far to say that the vocal performances on these recordings are among the most memorable black metal vocals I’ve heard.

While it’s good that all of the songs had enough time to build the atmosphere, there are some tracks which feel like they are meandering a bit towards the end, such as “As the Wolves Gather”, and “Sjel Av Natten”. I’ve listened to tracks longer than these ones, but I couldn’t help but feel like a minute or two could’ve been trimmed off without compromising the integrity of the tracks. Nonetheless, both title tracks have strong moments, so I definitely wouldn’t call them bad tracks. I feel that these two FORGOTTEN WOODS albums qualify as classics of Norwegian black metal. Their music captures the bone-chilling coldness of their home country, as well as possessing a melancholy beauty.

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

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
As the Wolves Gather
1. Eclipsed
2. As the Wolves Gather
3. In My Darkest Visions
4. Winter
5. Grip of Frost
6. Dimension of the Blackest
7. Svartedauden
8. Through Dark and Forgotten Valleys
Sjel Av Natten
9. Sjel Av Natten
10. En Natt Med Storm Og Ravners Skrik
11. Hvor Vinteren Rír
Lineup:
Olav Berland – Bass, Drums, Guitars
Rune Vedaa – Bass, Guitars
Nylon – Bass, Guitars
Neige – Vocals 
Record Label: Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae (ATMF)
     


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