Sombres Forêts
Royaume De Glace

I’m a college student. I don’t own a car. This means I do a lot of walking and bus riding. With all this semi-idle time on my hands, its a blessing to have music such as Sombres Forêts. Royaume De Glace (which translates to “Kingdom of Ice”) is, to get right to the point, an exceptionally beautiful album. It just overflows with gorgeous melodies, progressions and textures. Trust me, there is nothing better than walking through three feet of freshly fallen snow while listening to this (though there are a great many albums which I could enjoy just as much in this setting). I am not a black metal connoisseur by any means. I’ve never owned a Darkthrone album, and I probably never will. But I do enjoy acts like Deathspell Omega, Wolves In The Throne Room, Leviathan and Weakling. I almost feel like this album has renewed my interest in the genre.

Sombres Forêts is a one man black metal band, handled by Annatar, from Quebec. Two other recordings have been released since this (a self-titled demo and Quintessence, both in 2006). If you’re familiar with American black metal (especially the one man projects), then this is no new sound to you. Mid-paced, fuzzy guitars, tortured vocals, you know the drill. It is worth noting that this album feel decisively less “grim” than most other black metal I’m familiar with. I’d even go so far as to say this is Alcest’s counterpart. One you listen to while in a snow covered pine forest, and the other you listen to in a garden, but both speak the same language. Make no mistake, this is an album to listen from start to finish. It’s pretty well rounded, and definitely NOT background music. It almost has a folk/fantasy feel to it, somehow, no doubt due in part to the “snowy hidden grove” artwork. The artwork is great, though, and really helps contribute to the album as a whole package. Its similar to some of the Nest artwork, come to think of it (Trail of The Unwary or the split with Agalloch). I think people take for granted how powerful the image on front of the jewel case can be sometimes. Tell me the artwork for Blackwater Park or Nattens Madrigal didn’t have an impact on the experience.

If I had to pin down his sound, I’d say Xasthur ala To Violate The Oblivious. It definitely sounds black metal, but not harsh at all. Grainy, detatched guitars are layered with some very well done keyboards. They’re haunting and surreal, never overused, but always showing up at the right time. This record is also riddled with these beautiful acoustic guitar passages. Sometimes by themselves as interludes, but sometimes they mix with the distorted guitars and vocals, like ivy clinging to brickwork (“The Forest”). Its just such an organic album, it hardly even feels related to “metal”. This is the sort of music I tend to keep to myself. Its not that I don’t have anyone to share it with, or I don’t want to share it (I obviously do), but it just means so much more to experience this by yourself. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. I doub’t anyone’s going to be blasting this out of their car windows. Instead, get some headphones and take this album for a walk.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Belgarath
August 21st, 2008


  1. Commented by: Dimaension X

    “I doubt anyone’s going to be blasting this out of their car windows.”

    Wouldn’t that be great, though? I hate driving downtown, and suddenly hearing that bass-heavy thumping of the latest mindless drivel of a reggaeton or hip-hop beat.

    This is a very good album if you like Xasthur. Better live drums, even.

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