Dark Forest, Ridge & Furrow (Cruz Del Sur 2022)

UK metal band Dark Forest celebrate their twentieth anniversary with a new EP, Ridge & Furrow.

In their twenty years, Dark Forest has produced an impressive string of EPs and long-players, most recently in 2020 with the full-length album Oak, Ash, & Thorn. They play a traditional variety of heavy metal told in a melodic way that puts you in mind of traveling bards with stories to tell. Their sound is unmistakable – once you’ve heard it, you will recognize it again immediately. The band is Josh Winnard (vocals), Christian Horton (guitar), Patrick Jenkins (guitar), and Adam Sidaway (drums).

The set opens with “Skylark,” a song that displays rugged pop sensibilities on a wildly enthusiastic, fuzzy charge that has surprisingly fierce drumming. Just when you think this song sounds like something you’ve heard before, you notice things you have not heard before, combinations that have not existed prior to the current instantiation. There are pieces of NWOBHM, epic metal, fantasy metal, prog, and more, and it is tinted in a lovely fuzz. Damn, there is a lot going on here. Josh Winnard’s voice and the clarity of the guitars stand out, although the song deftly uses everything in it to add up to what it does. Sensational. “The Golden Acre” has a quieter start, and a more serious tone when it gets rolling, compared to the opener. A darker story, you might say, told with a similar depth and breadth.

The title track lands in the middle of the EP, and its compositional stature is sweeping. Truly, this album has a good deal in common with the band’s early work in this regard. It is an uplifting story about the endurance of land and how it always has an ability to renew. “Meadowland” is a short instrumental song that posits in acoustic. Beautiful. The final track, “Under The Greenwood Tree,” is a new rendering of a fan favorite that I first noticed on the Dawn Of Infinity (2011) album. It is a zesty bit, and then some – great to hear again. This EP is an excellent way to celebrate twenty years of Dark Forest. Recommended.

Ridge & Furrow is out on Friday, September 30th through Cruz Del Sur Music in digital, CD, and vinyl.


Dark Forest website, http://www.darkforest.co.uk/

Bandcamp, https://darkforest-uk.bandcamp.com/album/ridge-and-furrow

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Darkforestuk/

Cruz Del Sur Music, https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/blog/

© Wayne Edwards

Dark Forest, Ridge & Furrow (Cruz Del Sur 2022)

Dark Forest, Oak, Ash & Thorn review (Cruz Del Sur Music, 2020)

If you like your metal with a medieval story woven in, Dark Forest has a new album that fits the bill. Their fourth release, Oak, Ash & Thorn, is a well-crafted set that stands out among fantasy-oriented heavy metal music.

I have listened to all sorts of metal over the years, and I remember with admiration fantasy bands like Omen from way back (and Manowar and Iced Earth) and even individual albums like Fates Warning’s Night on the Brocken, which had a fantasy theme. You could argue The Sword’s Age of Winters and Gods of the Earth albums land in this genre, too, and they are highly technical metal. Then there are bands like Battle Beast which are fantasy-themed but push more in the stadium anthem direction. Another lane is folk metal, with bands like Korplikaani and Finntroll being good examples. It goes on and on. It is good to stretch out from time to time and listen to music at least a little outside your usual arena. If you are feeling adventurous and want to take the challenge, give Dark Forest a try.

Oak, Ash & Thorn is the first album I have heard from this band whose members include Christian Horton (guitar), Josh Winnard (vocals), Pat Jenkins (guitar), and Adam Sidaway (drums). I went back and did a deep dive on Spotify to catch up on their earlier releases before listening to the new one, and what I heard was solid writing and technical acuity. The themes are fantasy themes with a focus on English folklore. The new album points an eye toward the three sacred trees of England (see the title) and gains its launching point from a Rudyard Kipling book published more than 100 years ago. Very specific.

The album begins with a one and a half minute long intro, a nice quiet lute-like refrain with running water in the background. The first full song, “Wayfarer’s Eve,” opens with a piercing guitar, then a second, followed by a cavalry of percussion and rhythm introducing an epic tale. The vocals are clear and melodic, putting the listener in mind of a tale told by a travelling bard. The music is metal, and no mistake. Technical, precise guitars trounce along at a fast pace, and there is are excellent, well-paced lead breaks at just the right moments. There is a lot of production in the compositions – by that I mean there is a ton of harmony, the guitar often playing as a second voice along with the vocal. The songs are fairly long, most in the five minute range, with a couple of sevens and one just short of twelve minutes. The songs are virtually all fast-paced, even the short instrumental closer that sounds like a single. In all, it is an excellent, solid set. Recommended.

Oak, Ash & Thorn is out now from Cruz Del Sur Music and streaming everywhere.





Dark Forest, Oak, Ash & Thorn review (Cruz Del Sur Music, 2020)