Review: “Mournfall” by Old Forests

Forged in a furnace deep in the heart of Sussex, England by a three Black Metal fans in 1998, Old Forest recorded a pair of demos before releasing their debut album “Into the Old Forest” in 1999 and little did we know that it would be the start of a 22 year journey following a trail of breadcrumbs that mix of early 90s style Black Metal with epic Doom riffs. Their releases have been sporadic to say the least but the return in 2015 with a solidified line up of Kobold (Nocturnal Chants and Synths), Beleth (4 & 6 strings of Doom) and Kobro (War Hammers) provided us with the well received “Black Forests of Eternal Doom“, which introduced early 90’s style Doom elements that echo early Paradise Lost and Candlemass to compliment their increasingly original style Black Metal. Anders Kobro, formerly of Carpathian Forest seems to have sparked new energy and life into them and so the arrival of a sixth studio album in “Mournfall“, packaged with artwork by Lenny Bridgeman and mastered by Kjetil Ottersen is now upon us. The continuation of the Old Forest story sees the new coupled with the old this album also sees the band give away an unreleased demo from 2001 called “Sussex Hell Hound“, a low-fi, cassette transfer that accompanies the physical editions.

Painting in both light and shade the epic opening “Tyrant Spell” is one that heightens the senses as it crosses melancholic lyrics with melodic synths and vocals that turn from siren to banshee at the sinking of a millstone into the cold dark waters of the lake upon a winters morn. The riffs are down tuned and suitably crunchy while leads float over the surface to give an ethereal quality that leans on the bands previous works. A whirlwind of blast beats that envelopes “The Anvils” takes us on a nightmarish journey with an injection of Black Metal in it’s purist form, the influence of acts like Emperor and even Darkthrone felt within it’s confines but it is the stirring “Despair is my Name” with its bold synths that captures the imagination of the depraved minds. A hugely anthemic piece that will lift the black mass of any congregation, it combines the darkness of the earlier material with the dusky atmospheres of bands like Pink Floyd and “Darkside Of the Moon” before the Celtic Folk Metal of “Red Sky in Mourning” provides a restful opportunity to breathe.

Each tale of woe that is encapsulated in the record has a crack of light in the darkness that offers hope despite the bleakness and feelings of despair that emanate. Unlike their previous works, “Mournfall” is more refined and has, for want of a better term, an Art quality to it that is something of a surprise. The second half of the album provides us with “My Haunting Vision“, that creates a juxtaposition between crushing faster Doom infused riffs and mournful synths and as such is one of the real stand outs on the record by stepping out of the mid-tempo pacing that make up the majority of the material. It is Worlds apart from the slower drudge of “Solitude Apocalypse” which feels like dragging the lake in comparison, but it has it’s own qualities which grow on you with each repeated listen, like the Hammond Organ esq synth parts during the screams of “I can’t go on!” which is just majestic. “Shadows Immemorial” echoes the guitar work of bands like Spirt Adrift for the most part but it’s final flourish is pure evil after the almost angelic lead up to it before “A Bitter End” gives us a beautiful instrumental that would have fitted anywhere on the record. “Mournfall” will help you find your inner peace [7.5/10]

 

Track listing

  1. Tyrant Spell
  2. The Anvils
  3. Despair is my Name
  4. Red Sky in Mourning
  5. My Haunting Vision
  6. Solitude Apocalypse
  7. Shadows Immemorial
  8. A Bitter End

Mournfall” by Old Forests will be released on 23rd April 2021 via Death To Music productions

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