Old Forest have released their follow up to ‘None More Black’ after an eight year wait, and these UK black metal legends have got some time to fill here, with 4 songs stretching to almost fifty minutes. Their classic 1999 debut ‘Into the Old Forest’ was a favourite of mine, and I look forward to see what has been brewing in the Old Forest all this time.
Opener ‘Morwen’ builds with a swelling crescendo amongst birds tweeting and eerie wind instrumentation. This is a creeping, slow paced black metal base, complete with the odd moment of clean vocals. It’s an evocative, windswept piece of atmospheric black metal, bringing to mind the soar of Windir. A sharp contrast from their previous grimness, but not a totally unwelcome one. Sure, grim on these cold winter nights is good, but there’s plenty of bands that do grim. What we need is more bands like this who push the envelope a little bit.
‘Non’ has this gloom about it that is hard to describe. It feels like you’re hearing the music through a cold and frozen mist. Myabe its because I’m hearing this with snow outside my window, but it captures and invokes an emotional response. Specifically, ‘fuck this is intense’. It’s a mystical record, full of nature imagery and Drudkh-esque instrumentation. The underlying menace of ‘Tweoneleoht’ is balanced by the glacial keyboards behind it, and the soothing dark ambience of ‘Neaht’ brings us to a long but ultimately satisfying close.
Old Forest’s black metal doesn’t bear a lot of resemblance to what it used to, but an evolution is always welcome when the results come out like this. ‘Dagian’ is a soothing, highly atmospheric piece of work, that retains pieces of its black metal heritage, but is heading in the same direction as Alcest have. Let’s hope the results stay the same