Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Forest - s/t (1996)

Forest was another Blazebirth Hall band, similar to and yet quite different from Branikald. In fact, Kaldrad was one of the members of this project. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise to hear the sort of raw Black Metal found on Forest's self-titled debut, released in 1996. However, despite sharing some of the same characteristics and inspiration as Branikald, this is not exactly what one would expect.

From the opening moments of "Тенью Над Землёй", one might think that Forest is not all that different from Branikald. It surely takes a liberal amount of influence from the work of early Darkthrone, in particular the style utilized on Transilvanian Hunger. Four of the five songs present here include their fare share of tremolo riffs and fast, but not really intense, drumming. However, the atmosphere created by the guitar melodies is quite different. It is somewhat more sorrowful, though not to any extreme. When compared to the other project of Kaldrad, it is safe to say that Forest is more dynamic, featuring a bit more variation in tempos. Most surprisingly has to be the slower sections, accompanied by clean vocals, that are really reminiscent of the Isengard releases. The clean singing is not very good, and it raises its ugly head more times than one might appreciate, throughout the recording. Also, the guitar playing is a little sloppy, most noticeably during the slower parts. The songwriting is rather poor, with some songs dragging on and seeming even longer than they really are. That is never a good sign. "Enburnst the Christian" is decent, including some mid-paced parts that sound a bit like early Graveland, especially due to the odd percussion. It is the only song to really make use of the type of cold melodies that Branikald was known for. The twenty-minute outro is... laughable, at best. It is twenty minutes of clean guitars and someone crooning, comically, in the distance.

For the most part, the production is well-suited to this kind of music. The sound is very lo-fi, but not unlistenable. The guitars possess a raw edge to them, which is exactly what the material needed. The vocals are mixed in such a way as to be audible but not terribly clear, so they still have an obscure feel. For anyone that has heard the Branikald releases from the same time period, the sound is very similar. In fact, this might be a slight bit better, lacking some of the inconsistencies that plagued those early albums. If only the songwriting and execution was up to par.

Forest is not really an essential recording, even for fans of this band. The first song is the best one, with the rest containing some passable ideas but being spoiled by incomplete songwriting or just poorly thought-out concepts. In the end, there's one or two solid tracks and the rest is either boring or utterly horrible. This is not recommended, unless you can just record or download a couple songs and steer clear of the rest. And, by all means, do not spend any insane amount of money tracking down an original. It is not worth it.