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Old Forest – Mournfall Award winner

Old Forest
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 17 May 2021, 2:34 AM

OLD FOREST is a black metal band that formed in 1998.  “Mournfall,” is their sixth full length album but have also released several EPs and demos.  “Mournfall” is actually two albums into one badass, blackened doom package.  The first eight tracks make up the actual album but the final four are from their unreleased 2001 demo, “Sussex Hell Hound.” Despite the fact the songs are years apart from each other, the album still flows very well.  Of course the demo songs are more raw but they really don’t sound that bad.  The band has added a lot of doom to their sound over the years but they have always been about riffs upon riffs—the demo still retains that and it is obvious that even back then the band hungered to be more than your typical black metal band.

The Raven Looks On,” is a blazing track with some serious riffage going on.  It sounds raw, throaty, and evil but the musicianship is far beyond what a lot of black metal bands were doing in the early 2000’s.  The sudden speed around the half way mark show a band that still wants to go for the throat but the song writing also shows maturity beyond the years they had, at the time. The demo’s title track combines head banging groove with a furious blackened assault and unique melodic moments that lend the track a theatrical feel.  Hearing stuff like this from them that early on is impressive and the band new they were onto something special.  In their new music, I can hear their old style still inside but it is just presented a different way now.

Fast forward to 2021, just a year from their last album “Back Into The Old Forest,” and the bands continues to show their evolving sound that never compromises their dark roots.  The riffs are straight up doom: thick and all encompassing.  A lot of the clean vocals, and the melodies from the guitars that compliment them, show a somber side that some black metal bands ignore but OLD FOREST embrace fully. “Tyrant Spell,” begins with almost gentle guitar that sounds clever and thoughtful.  When those clean kick in, a shiver goes down my spine; they meld perfectly into the melancholic atmosphere the song dredges up.  By the 2:42 mark arrives with the lead guitar bouncing around catchy melodies, it is obvious this band is extremely adept at combining somber, melodic music with their brand of black metal.

The Anvils,” hits as hard as the title suggest…for a few seconds before taking a sudden turn into more melodic waters.  But those crunchy riffs are still around and the song has focused, blackened moments intertwined with their brand of doom guitar. Despite an overall abrasive touch, this song is also oddly moving. “My Haunting Vision,” is pierced by a hell driven vocal attack.  The guitars latch onto the vocals but don’t soften the blow so much as enhance it with more dimensions and layers.  The clean vocals remind me of something ENSLAVED might do: an underground approach to styles that one would think might not go with black metal but do.

Shadows Immemorial,” is one kick ass track.  The riffs that drop like bombs and the leads that are born out of them are immediately attention grabbing.  From one note to the next, my ears were glued to this epic song. The rhythmic motion of the riffs and the vocals is powerful stuff and gets the blood pumping.  Still, those haunting passages of melodic leads also take your mind places….such is the nature of this album! With “Mournfall,”  OLD FOREST once again prove their ability to grow and add more to themselves without sacrificing their essence.  Highly recommended

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Tyrant Spell
2. The Anvils
3. Despair Is My Name
4. Red Sky in Mourning
5. My Haunting Vision
6. Solitude Apocalypse
7. Shadows Immemorial
8. A Bitter End
9. The Raven Looks On
10. Black Alchemist
11. Sussex Hell Hound
12. Serpent & Saint 
Kobold – Vocals, Keyboards
Beleth – Guitars, Bass
Kobro - Drums
Record Label: Death to Music Productions


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Edited 28 May 2023

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