Beyond the Dark Forest are a one man dark ambient/orchestral/atmospheric drone band from Clevedon, UK. ‘Mirkwood’ is their new EP, taking its name of course from that dark and evil forest from Lord of the Rings. Quite fitting for what lies beneath…
Opener ‘The Long Trail Across Dagorlad’ is a throbbing, pulsing drone of malevolence and dread. Sounding for all the world like a howling wind, the track is evocative of its name, taken from the desolate wasteland where the Dead Marshes lie. Every so often there is a note, which could be a distant horn that creeps in, like an aural relic of a bygone battle. An intermittent rustling disturbs the gloomy hum, like a dead bush in the breeze.
For an outfit that turns 20 this year, Beyond the Dark Forest have perfected the art of evil through sound. ‘Staring into Dol Guldur, the Darkened Realm’ is frighteningly minimalist. You feel that something is watching you, or that you definitely heard something, but its gone again. That feeling comes and goes a lot during this EP… Like standing on a precipice, staring across to the titular fortress, you feel your blood chill and your skin prickle.
‘Mirkwood’ is unsettlingly sparse at points. Written for discomfort, Beyond the Dark Forest have removed the known from the equation. It broods with the feeling of an inevitable explosion of noise but remains tantalisingly distant from it. It looms like darkness, awaiting its release. ‘Arriving at the Border to Rhosgobel’ captures the feel of a dark and dense forest where one might fear to tread, with birdsong intertwining with brooding drones.
Closing with the folky ambience of ‘O’er the Gladden Fields and Home’, ‘Mirkwood’ is fitting of the theme, creating oppressive dark atmospheres that are immediate evocative of Tolkien’s world. Even the almost jaunty final track works perfectly, accompanied by rain and thunder, it makes for a refreshing break from the gloom. ‘Mirkwood’ is my favourite ambient record of the year by far!