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Old Forest - Dagian

Old Forest
by Danny Sanderson at 12 April 2016, 2:28 AM

OLD FOREST have been creating Black Metal sporadically since 1998. Since their reformation in 2007, the band have found a new audience and re-established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the UK Black Metal scene. Their latest record, "Dagian", sees them trim the fat from their already impressive sound and carve ahead on an altered, and improved, Black Metal journey.

"Morwen", the first of the four tracks on offer here, is a song that slowly creeps into being with a wave of ambient sounds and sweet, clean guitar lines, coupled with some deep, powerful chants. This quickly gives way to some distorted, dissonant guitar lines and measured, rhythmic drumming that signals the beginning of the track proper. Most of the initial hooks in this song are derived from the synthesizer, which dances in amongst the funereal dirge of the guitar and the drums, giving the song a nice atmospheric edge. The vocals are used quite sparingly throughout the track, but immediately grab the listeners attention when they do so. As the track progresses, the music takes a harsher turn, with the guitar work becoming much more thick and authoritative to compliment the dark quality of the vocals. It's a solid note on which to begin this record. "Non" is a song that does a great job of balancing the Black Metal and Ambient, atmospheric aspects of the bands sounds. The Black Metal side is much fiercer and morose, but it's broken up by some really cool atmospheric touches and folky trills provided by the synthesizer. This is definitely a much strong song than the "Morwen", simply because it's peppered more liberally with interesting hooks and musical high points that helps to maintain the listeners attention throughout the whole of the song, and it means that, although this track lasts close to twelve minutes, it feels far shorter than it actually is, and leaves the listener wanting more. This is without a doubt the strongest and most impressive song on the whole record.

The albums penultimate track, "Tweoneleoht", has a very epic feel about it, from the dense, melody-tinged guitar lines through to the majestic ambience and sparse chanting incorporated here. It's probably the heaviest sounding track on the record, and it's also a great way to prepare the listener for the albums closing number, "Neaht"; this fourth and final song is the longest on the whole record, clocking in at close to sixteen minutes. It's got an airy, ethereal quality to it that dominates the overall sound on this track, shrouding the music in a dense and impenetrable atmosphere throughout. The only facet to break up this wall of melancholic ambience is a  wave of minimalist, dirge-like guitars, peppered sparingly with some melodious hooks, that carve through the mix and command the listeners attention when they are utilised. This adds to the sound more and more as the track steadily progresses, and by the end of the track, the listener is engrossed in a sea of cacophonous noise. This is a track defined by the atmospheric and Ambient qualities in the bands sound, and even though it differs from the other three tracks vastly, it's a mesmerising way to close this record.

This record is a melting pot of great ideas blended together to create something really cool and memorable. The points of contention and criticism that could be raised are few and far between, and, for the most part, this is an amazing record to listen to. It's liberal with its hooks, generous with its atmospheric side, and maintains a dense, aggressive edge even when the music is at its most relaxed. This is a much more atmospheric affair than their previous efforts, and if this is the sort of music that this slight stylistic change results in, then I hope there's more to come in the near future.

4 Star Rating

1. Morwen
2. Non
3. Tweoneleoht
4. Neaht
Lord Grond - Drums
Beleth - Guitars, Vocals
Kobold - Vocals, Chants, Synthesizer
Record Label: Avantgarde Music


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Edited 10 July 2020

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