Sunday, September 29, 2013

Forest - Обрекая Надежду На Вечность (1998)

The third full-length album from Forest, Обрекая Надежду На Вечность, was released in 1998. This record contains nearly an hour of cold and dismal Russian Black Metal, with a very minimalist style that owes a lot to the northern sound of the early '90s.It is preceded and followed by very strong albums that may overshadow it, to some extent, yet it should not be ignored for it is also a very worthy recording.

There is a very raw quality to this music. Something immensely genuine and poignant. The style itself has been done by many bands, some with more success than others. However, Forest is one of the few that really gets it and understands the true essence of Black Metal. One is reminded of Filosofem, from Burzum, during the somewhat lengthy intro track that features various tremolo melodies bereft of drums or vocals. The desolate feeling is carried on throughout the songs that follow. The percussion rumbles along at a fast pace, while the cold riffs and hate-filled vocals create an atmosphere of gloom and misanthropy. This is best captured by some of the screams in "Горю...". It is easy to perceive the sense of isolation, physically and spiritually, with the modern world and what is often mistaken for life. Even the lyrics convey this sentiment of being at odds with the world, connecting more with the purity and lifelessness of the winter and death, itself. The vocals are very harsh and contrast the beauty of the guitar melodies, repetitive and trance-inducing as they are. The pace remains the same, throughout the album, yet the various melodies are distinct and memorable. It definitely owes a lot to Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger and, though not quite as dark, seems very much like what Fenriz and Nocturno Culto would have come up with if they'd continued with that style. The last two tracks are completely different, however, being more atmospheric in nature. After an instrumental that is not too far removed from what was heard on the second Branikald album, there is a lengthier piece that is composed of many dissonant chords and clean chanting in the background. In its own way, this also hearkens back to Filosofem.

The production is very good, especially compared to the Branikald releases from 1998. The sound is raw and under-produced, with a thin and sharp guitar tone. Yet, in a way, it still comes across as a little more forceful and clear than the aforementioned recordings. The vocals are mixed perfectly, never getting out of control and overpowering the rest. Similarly, the drums are balanced and certainly loud enough to keep a good pace, but are rather dull and not so clear or loud as to distract from the guitars.

Обрекая Надежду На Вечность has to be one of the most solid Black Metal albums to emerge that whole year. At a time when bands like Darkthrone and Gorgoroth were in hibernation or long past their prime, and the likes of Dark Funeral, Emperor and Marduk were receiving so much attention for records that were lame and unworthy, Forest was keeping the true flame of Black Metal burning throughout the dark times of the late '90s. This is very much recommended.