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Ophidian Forest – VotIVe Award winner

Ophidian Forest
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 19 October 2018, 8:45 AM

A forest whose trees and vegetation are so thick and tangled that they resemble a vast miasma of snakes. Branches and foliage so dense, they blot out all light from penetrating the forest darkness. Such is the vision of OPHIDIAN FOREST, a Black Metal recording project composed of individuals from the United States and the Netherlands. The project’s new record, “VotIVe,” is the fourth full-length and first to feature guitarist D., who joins founding members Amalgamoth (vocals, keyboards) and Otrebor (drums). The new album is a conceptual one, paying tribute to seven pre-Christian, Pagan Gods.

“Nerthus” is the Germanic Pagan God of fertility. It opens with an explosion of drums and cymbals, with a really odd cadence. As it settles into a slow dirge, you can definitely hear some of those Progressive elements, along with a bit of psychedelia. It’s brooding and dark, and the keyboards give it an old-school feeling, like THE DOORS gone rogue. Towards the end, trumpets announce the coming of something evil. “Baduhenna” is a Germanic Goddess. It’s another trippy piece where the structure is loose while the drums run amok. The sound drops about half-way off, and the song turns into a cold march of keys, guitars and barely heard vocals. It rides an ominous edge through the end.

“Sandraudiga” is a Germanic Goddess, and could translate to “she who turns the sand red.” The chord progressions definitely suggest a bit of a middle-eastern flair, tempered with a feeling of doom lurking in the background. It builds a mesmerizing sound that hooks you into its murky world, especially that ending keyboard sequence. “Vagdavercustis” is another unconventional sounding song that sounds like something was unearthed thousands of years ago and is just coming to light once again. The Goddess Vagdavercustis is known from a dedicatory inscription on an altar found at Cologne (Köln), Germany. The stone dates from around the 2nd century CE and is now in a museum in Cologne. The inscription appears on the front of the altar above a carved relief of five male figures carrying out a ritual. The sound is fascinating, being both jovial and filthy at the same time.

“Nehalennia” is almost always depicted with marine symbols and a large, benign-looking dog at her fee. She must have been a Celtic or Germanic deity, who was attributed power over tradingshipping and possible horticulture and fertility. The song is another odd one. Eerie keyboards haunt your very being here, in an otherwise fairly innocuous song. As it continues on, it take on a slightly nefarious tone. “Viradectis” is a shorter, four-minute song that is more straightforward in its approach. A simple but evil main sound permeates throughout, like hanging on the edge, awaiting your doom. “Hella” closes the album, in a ten-minute opus. Slow, droning notes open the song, with a side dose of depression. The weird energy of some of the earlier pieces is dropped in favor of laments that seem to come from your inner soul. Terse piano notes support this feeling, along with some crushing passages towards the end. It ends in utter desolation.

Overall, I found this album to be fascinating. It is a very original take within the overarching genre of Black Metal. They keyboards are key to the new sound—weird, odd, and trippy, and at times take you back a few decades. The band is not afraid of experimentation either. They let it all hang out, without concern. At times harrowing, and at others near-jovial, it is a great collection for someone looking for something off the beaten path.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Nerthus
2. Baduhenna
3. Sandraudiga
4. Vagdavercustis
5. Nehalennia
6. Viradectis
7. Hella
Amalgamoth – Vocals, Keys & Synths.
Otrebor – Drums
D. – Bass, Guitar
Record Label: Code 666


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