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Dark Forest | The Awakening

by Alexandra Mrozowska
– Columnist —

Dark Forest The Awakening“Epic”, “classic”, “traditional” – these are suitable (yet clichéd) terms to describe Dark Forest’s third album The Awakening, the follow-up to their 2011 Dawn Of Infinity release, which saw the light of day just recently. The Black Country-based band, inspired with classic heavy and power metal musical aesthetics, deliberately brings the best of both worlds rather than going for any experiments. And there is no blasphemy for a die-hard metalhead in going as far as placing their records between the classics of Iron Maiden and the early Gamma Ray records on one’s CD rack; sound-wise, fans of both should be satisfied with what Dark Forest delivers.

The Awakening starts with a spoken intro (as a matter of fact – the ending lines of Percy Shelley’s The Mask Of Anarchy poem), a prelude to the journey through the world of twin-guitar wizardry and the epic heavy metal tales. All elements required to create “a more perfect union” – so to speak – between heavy and power metal are there. The thunder-like drum sound and pumping bass together create a well-balanced background for the massive twin-guitar duel of Christian Horton and Pat Jenkins. And as for the “requirement” of high-pitched, harmonic and powerful vocals, Josh Winnard is the right man in the right place. As befits the diligent representatives of the genre, Dark Forest offers a cross-section of dynamic, fast-paced tracks (“Secret Commonwealth” or the final “Sons Of England”) and mid-tempo Maiden-esque tunes (“The Awakening”, “Penda”s Fan”); there are also traces of slightly updated, or revisited, NWOBHM inspirations on the album (“The Last Season”). Even the ballad-esque, harmonic “Immortal Remains” has a certain power to it – one of the biggest challenges in this genre of metal music is how to balance massive instrumental background with the melodic structure of songs, and this is a challenge Dark Forest rises up to.

Sound-wise, Dark Forest is one of these bands that “got stuck in the ‘80s …” or, perhaps, early ‘90s. And no matter how often phrases of this kind served as an insult or reproach expressed by the reviewers, in this case the band’s “datedness” is actually one of their biggest assets. Their newly released album The Awakening proves not only their potential and exceptional musicianship, but also – gives a listener a chance to break away from the digitally processed, auto-tuned and mercilessly contemporary music enjoyed via Spotify and turn back the hands of time – at least, a little bit. Dark Forest is the ‘80s/early ‘90s heavy/power metal revisited, with the unique climate and certain powerfulness so characteristic to this music. And as it seems, the Britons know well that the hybrid modern-day music genres, such as nu-metal, are here today and gone tomorrow, whereas classic heavy metal sound still stands the test of time. With the limited edition of their newly released album – The Awakening – also available in the vinyl format, Dark Forest’s rendition of classic metal sound can be even more convincing. And it’s a good reason to dust off your turntable forgotten in the cellar, too!

Genre: Heavy Metal, Power Metal

Josh Winnard – Vocals
Christian Horton – Guitars
Pat Jenkins – Guitars
Paul Thompson – Bass
Adam Sidaway – Drums

1. The Awakening
2. Sacred Signs
3. Penda’s Fen
4. Turning Of The Tides
5. Rise Like Lions
6. Immortal Remains
7. Secret Commonwealth
8. The Last Season
9. Sons Of England

Label: Cruz Del Sur Music


Hardrock Haven rating: 8.5/10