Album Review: Dark Forest – Oak, Ash & Thorn (Cruz Del Sur Music)

With their first studio offering in four years, Dark Forest marries traditional metal glory with tales from the heart of England’s long and storied past.

Dark Forest founding member, guitarist and songwriter Christian Horton was halfway through the creation of the band’s fifth studio album when he came across a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s 1906 fantasy, Puck of Pook’s Hill. The book is a powerful depiction of England’s history, told through the lens of the people who have helped shape the country through the ages. The book’s crucial element of magic and folklore made an instant connection with Horton — Dark Forest has long delved into such topics, and the leaves of the three sacred trees of England, Oak, Ash & Thorn, made it the ideal choice for the album’s title. The album, perhaps more so than any other Dark Forest studio effort, properly expresses the band’s deep connection to the past, as well as the theme of the perpetual outsider, reflecting the course the band has charted since their 2002 formation.

Oak, Ash & Thorn will be released on April 24th 2020 via Cruz Del Sur Music.

Peacefully, the earthiness of Dark Forest emerges like the blooming of flowers with the folkish beauty of Ælfscyne. Just an intro but what an attractive intro it is. Transitioning easily into the rocking power metal riffs of Wayfarer’s Eve. With plenty of pomp to the bombastic beat, it’s energetic and smile-inducing start.

With a bit more melody to the vocals, The Midnight Folk keeps things bouncy before Relics continues to let Dark Forest’s riffs shine.

…and shine they do, ever so brightly. An absolute beast of a track, the guitars just drive it forward in such a way that the senses near explode with pleasure. Although there is no scaling back with Avalon Rising either. Here, it becomes crystal clear that Dark Forest have crafted a near-perfect slice of glorious metal glory. The longest and most epic listen then follows in the form of the title track.

Echoing and lonely vocals making a strong declaration leading to a thumping, darker yet still gorgeous in how it’s delivered, rhythm. Throw in guitar soloing sharp enough to pierce glass, a constantly evolving beat that brings tear-jerking melody and what you end up is a veritable 2020 classic.

Call it a return to a simpler sound following the enormity of the previous track, The Woodlander is a straight-forward punchy number. Fear not though, there’s still a whole bunch of the ‘epics’ in Dark Forest yet as proven by Eadric’s Return. A frantic, squealing and galloping head-banger that ends in the most spectacular fist-pumping way.

Such grandness should never end but end it must and Dark Forest make sure it’s not goodbye, just see you later with Heart of the Rose.

Dark Forest – Oak, Ash & Thorn Full Track Listing:

1. Ælfscyne
2. Wayfarer’s Eve
3. The Midnight Folk
4. Relics
5. Avalon Rising
6. Oak, Ash & Thorn
7. The Woodlander
8. Eadric’s Return
9. Heart of the Rose




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  • Carl Fisher

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