Posts Tagged ‘Tolkien’

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!

I’m reading Lord of the Rings again. This is probably the 15th time at least that I’ve read it since the first time I picked it up as a kid. I like to read it once a year if I can, not only because it is a masterpiece of storytelling and world/mythology creation, but there is a huge link between Tolkien’s work and heavy metal in general. Bands, song titles, album titles; so many inspired directly or indirectly by the works of J.R.R, so I’ve built a playlist based upon bands that have some link to his works. I don’t normally do this, but each song can get a brief explanation for those who may be a bit confused about some of the links:

1. Blind Guardian – Lord of the Rings: no explanation needed here surely. I couldn’t miss the world’s best power metal bands, especially since their Tolkien obsession led them to write their best album based on Tolkien’s most impenetrable book, The Simarillion.

2. Amon Amarth – Amon Amarth: An alternate name for Mount Doom, the fire that forged the One Ring.

3. Burzum – Ea, Lord of the Depths: Burzum is the word for ‘darkness’ in the Black Speech of Mordor. It is found engraved on the Ruling Ring.

4. Gorgoroth – Gorgoroth: A vast, dead plain within Mordor

5. Cirith Ungol – The Troll: Cirith Ungol is the pass into Mordor where Shelob lives

6. Morgoth – Unreal Imagination: Morgoth is the Great Enemy, Sauron’s boss and the creator of all evil in Middle Earth

7. Led Zeppelin – Misty Mountain Hop: The Misty Mountains are probably the most famous range in the Tolkien works, and this is a rocking song!

8. Isengard – Dark Lord of Gorgoroth: Covers two bases by mentionion Gorgoroth again and Isengard being the home of Saruman the wizard

9. Balrog – Nazgul Warlord: A Balrog was the massive beast of fire and flame that fights Gandalf in Moria

10. Nazgul – In Summis Montibus: The Nazgul were the 9 Ringwraiths sent by Sauron to find the Ring

11. Nightwish – The Elvenpath: Contains samples from the animated Lord of the Rings movie, as well as referencing elves and Bilbo Baggins

12. Orange Goblin – Saruman’s Wish: Saruman being the traitorous white wizard

13. Three Inches of Blood – Destroy the Orcs: A kick ass song about destroying orcs

14. Ephel Duath – Vector, Third Movement: Ephel Duath is a mountain range on the West and South of Mordor. It means ‘Fence of Shadow’

So there we have it, a bit of everything and all mixed in with the heady goodness of dwarves, elves, men and wizards. Oh, and lots of unspeakable evil!