Monday, September 23, 2013

Forest - Песнью В Жатве Горя (1999)

Released in 1999, Песнью В Жатве Горя is considered to be the last true Forest album. This picks up from where its predecessor left off, delivering more raw and minimalist Black Metal with somewhat of an ambient feel. Born during a time when the more popular bands in this field were those that embraced the foul and disgusting modern techniques, this is an album that remained true to the northern style that had developed some years earlier. This is pure and genuine Black Metal, bereft of any occult posturing or outside influences.

The music contained on this album is truly cold and grim, in ways that most bands simply fail to even comprehend. One need not spend years studying scripture and working as much Judeo-Christian mythology into the lyrics as possible to capture the true essence of Black Metal. No outlandish interviews proclaiming this band to be the only ones to really understand the music or any sort of other preposterous antics. The songwriting captures the desolation and solitude of the human spirit as it writhes in the captivity of this modern world, separated from anything that was once pure and meaningful. Even from the intro alone, which is seven minutes of cold guitar melodies, one can sense this. As the first proper song gets underway, there is an added feeling of melancholy conveyed by the brilliant tremolo riffs. Such simple arrangements, yet the feeling is powerful and moving. Drums rush forth at a steady pace, just to keep time and never really drawing much attention. The sombre and frigid guitars flow from one idea to the next, seamlessly. Unlike their first release, this is somewhat one-dimensional in that all of the songs consist of fast tremolo riffs, without any sort of experimentation. Yet, despite the similarity between all of the tracks, each one possesses its own feel. Aside from the style, some of the melodies of "Жаром Вен" will remind one of early Darkthrone, though somewhat gloomier. There is an epic quality to this material, something few others really accomplished with this sound. This is quite clear on "Лей, Кровавая Пенa", which is sorrowful and hateful at the same time, with a main theme that will seep into your mind and drown it in darkness. The music has a hypnotic effect, putting you in a state of consciousness that is more conducive to deep thought. 

The production is just what one would want from this kind of music. The guitar is raw and cold, enabling the riffs to have the desired effect. They are clear enough for one to really become immersed in the melodies, though still fuzzy and harsh. The drums know their place, neither buried nor at the forefront, audible enough to keep the pace and add a bit of urgency to the sound, but never being overbearing in the slightest. The vocals are distant and less forceful. This is how Black Metal should sound. There is somewhat of a necro quality to this, though it is never such that one cannot follow what is going on. Though raw and under-produced, there is still a certain level of clarity.

Песнью В Жатве Горя is a recommended piece of Russian Black Metal that should appeal to purists of the early-'90s sound. But moreso than just keeping the tradition alive, Forest took that approach and made something that possesses its own feeling. In the years before bands like Horna really found their footing, or the likes of Clandestine Blaze or Sargeist came along to keep the pure Black Metal feeling alive, bands such as Forest and Branikald were doing their part to prevent the fires from burning out.