DARK FOREST – The Awakening
Looking back on my previous review for this UK band’s second album "Dawn of Infinity", I remember thinking that this quintet could be much stronger with a more promising vocal presence. So Dark Forest on their third album "The Awakening" introduce two new members: second guitarist Patrick Jenkins and vocalist Josh Winnard, and as a result this 9 song effort pushes up the quality factor in their engaging brand of culturally influenced heavy/power metal.
Expect a sound that reverberates between classic doom, epic metal, and traditional sounds with twin guitar harmonies and cultural textures. Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, and Running Wild come to mind, along with a twinge of Witchfinder General and While Heaven Wept. Guitarists Christian Horton and the aforementioned Mr. Jenkins unfurl a number of slow to quick competitive axe breaks, along with searing back and forth riff/ harmony action that will make you reminisce about the days of NWOBHM and early American 80’s metal.
Recording their album at 444hz instead of the standard 440hz, this frequency has been used in ancient Gregorian chants to encourage ‘Transformation and Miracles’. New vocalist Josh has a clean bard-like charm, illuminating in a more controlled John Arch way and ascending to the stratosphere for trailing verses/ choruses on standout material such as "Turning of the Tides" and the energetic follow up "Rise like Lions". Dark Forest excel at transitioning from faster galloping tempos into something subtly slower with a boatload of epic harmonic, battle-tested charm.
I am sure classic Iron Maiden comes up, especially when bassist Paul Thompson joins the syncopation high harmony action, such as the opening riffs on "Secret Commonwealth", where once again Josh builds upon the music foundation through a stirring, quick verse delivery and slower, melodic chorus. Overall those who live for traditional tenets in metal will find Dark Forest ideal and essential.
Bravo, gentlemen – "The Awakening" is indeed setting a course for major accolades in the scene, keep up the high quality work.