Oak, Ash & Thorn
(Cruz Del Sur Music)
Cruz Del Sur Music, the Italian Heavy, Doom, Power Metal label, is a household name that represents many respected and revered acts since its inception. PAGAN ALTAR, SACRED STEEL , THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG, WHILE HEAVEN WEPT, APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE, ARGUS, ATLANTEAN KODEX, BATTLEROAR, GATEKEEPER, ARGUS, KING HEAVY, MAGISTER TEMPLI, MAUSOLEUM GATE, SACRAL RAGE – all released many quality releases in co-operation with them and DARK FOREST, another gemstone in their helms, seems like upholding the reputation by each release. Till the release of their 4th full length “Beyond The Veil” in 2016, their discography was rich of four EPs and four full lengths. If we consider their debut with the “Succubus” demo in 2004, this represents their patience in approach before each release. Mythology, history, folk tales, fantasy literature, war, battles, weapons, valor – has always been the energy and inspiration behind this epic genre and here, DARK FOREST imbue folksy elements into traditional Heavy Metal and power aesthetic, which always brings originality and quest-worthy soundtracks full of imagination of visions. Their fifth full length, aptly named “Oak, Ash & Thorn”, keeps that classic approach and may well establish, why DARK FOREST needs to be regarded as one of the most unique bands in its field, in terms of theme and innate ability to write track after track of energizing, galloping Heavy / Power Metal. Like being transported into a magical realm, singer Josh Winnard’s singing is confident, powerful and thoroughly enjoyable, also keeps tickling your brains with the thought that he must be a very close neighbor of Bruce Dickinson! The individual performances here are stellar. Christian Horton and Patrick Jenkins are excellent guitarists and they dazzle again and again with sharp riffs and gorgeous harmonies. They may borrow a lot from the MAIDEN school of NWOBHM, but that’s obvious. Also, the songs are written in such a way that, nine tracks lengthening more than fifty minutes long simply fly by, which makes “Oak, Ash & Thorn” a mystical beast with a fascinating blend of traditional and Power Metal. With the cover art by legendary Duncan Storr (DEMON, EDGE OF SANITY, ENGLISH DOGS, GATEKEEPER, GOLGOTHA, RAGE, SAMSON, SKYCLAD), which I dare to say is one of the most visually communicating album arts of modern time, will give you the clue of experiencing “Oak, Ash and Thorn” as a beautiful, sweeping tale of magic and mystery, where skilled musicianship guides the legendary tales of a long-forgotten past and makes for an undeniably impressive album with a unique and elevating sound. This shall be experienced by all fans and followers of quality and traditionality. Explore more about the band at www.facebook.com/darkforestuk and visit their label page at www.cruzdelsurmusic.com.