Dark Forest
Oak, Ash & Thorn

Talk about a surprise band for me. This 4-piece British band has been around for close to 20 years, flying under my radar as they have released 4 prior albums to this fifth one Oak, Ash & Thorn. Dark Forest play a brand of Heavy/Power Metal. Think early Iron Maiden mixed with early Fates Warning and the first Angelwitch album, as the band incorporates some NWOBHM as well.

After an epic and very cool instrumental intro “Wayfarer’s Eve” comes blazing forth with some extraordinary melodic guitar riffing and the singer incorporating some ancient Dickinson and John Arch styled vocals and sounding just plain awesome. The main guitar riff is emotive and very catchy, which has some nice drum rolls and excellent vocal choruses. The song gets me in a good mood-I’m happy. Why?? Because this is real Heavy Metal. Traditional and just plain good ‘ole Metal is not fucking dead. Sure there are the bajillion of extreme metal genres but true metal bands just are not around like they used to be, back in the 70’s-90’s. Dark Forest brings that glory back. An absolutely terrific opening track.

“The Midnight Folk” is another great song with some awesome vocal parts and around the 1.25 part the singer reminds me of Dickinson belting out “2 Minutes to Midnight” for some reason-Bruce is definitely an influence and that is just amazing. Some more awesome guitar melodies as you think about forests, trolls, dew glistening on an open meadow and castles and knights in the background with some stupid fucking little Hobbits running around knocking each other over. Seriously I love listening to this band. The guitar melodies around the 3.20 part with the soloing and then the killer drum rolls where the drummer seems to be using the entire kit and the drums sound organic. No trigger as fuck sounding double bass-this is natural and the way true metal was meant to be played.

“Avalon Rising” at over 7 minutes has epic screaming from the beginning with the soft and mellow build up then right into the metal with screaming choruses. An outstanding lead riff with such memorable melodies. More great drums rolls throughout and a little bass guitar getting some action here and there. The title track is close to 12 minutes and has some great guitar work right from the start with the melodies fusing nicely with the drum work and then around the 7 minute mark some nice atmospheric parts with the isolated vocals and the song builds up to a grand crescendo and features some extraordinary screams.

“Eadric’s Return” has some true power metal moments as the song picks up to a galloping pace and has awesome instrumentation all around. The song slows a bit and then picks up some more speed. After the guitar solo check out that guitar riffing beginning at the 3.23 part. Fast and just a killer riff.

Dark Forest is quite the find for me, really. Especially as I am finding other bands out there that are really bringing the power to the true metal such as Khemmis, Visigoth and Eternal Champion and Spirit Adrift. Add Dark Forest in there for me. Dark Forest’s prior output was a bit speedier, adding a little more power to the metal, which is missing here. But do not let that fool you. Every single track is pure metal and forged in blood and steel. The songs are epic and strongly crafted.

Oak, Ash & Thorn features their best sounding album, to date and has epic songs and musicianship that are super strong. When looking at the album cover, I knew immediately I was going to like this band, but never did I expect Dark Forest to resonate in me, as they do. Oak, Ash & Thorn is one of the finest releases this year. Buy or Die!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
May 19th, 2020

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