posted on 4/2010 By:
That Forest Silence’s The Eternal Winter demo sees the light of day after eight years, with two new tracks tacked on for good measure, somehow seems fitting given the current climate in black metal. You see, this EP and said climate fit like a glove; snug but with the right amount of wiggle room.
While the recording is rife with sweeping arrangements and lush atmospherics, the gargled vocals, singular vision and simplicity give Winter Ritual a rare intensity not often heard from other contemporaries. A healthy balance between tremolo picking and one-note passages is achieved without sounding pieced together. The end result is a whole hell of a lot of raw emotion expressed with a subtlety that strikes as neither condescending nor false but quite real and tangible.
“The Symbol” and the title track are the two new songs and they open the EP. One might expect the two to sound somewhat different when paired behind the demo material, but they do all sound cohesive. After all, this is essentially a one-man band so the possibility of any drastic transformations from one recording to the next is perhaps reduced. Almost immediately the somber tone of the release is set with “The Symbol,” and songwriter Winter makes no effort to hide his background as a keyboardist. We’re not talking power metal synth but a heftier, more sparsely used synth that serves the song rather than carries it. While not the best track of the EP, it is successful as a mood-setter of sorts.
At a little over ten minutes, “Winter Ritual” is the longest and most complete song. The emotions it draws are raw but also more varied due to the noticeable transformations within. Particularly effective here are the background noises and other little details that make “Winter Ritual” more haunting than the rest of the fare.
Of the previously unreleased demo songs “The Eternal Winter” is the strongest. That delicate balance in the riffing mentioned above shines brightest here. “I Feel the Claws of Darkness” is slightly less compelling but Winter Ritual ends on its most atmospheric note, and a great note it is, with “Silence,” a title taken less literally than the name suggests.
It is true that these songs could be listened to in separate sittings, but I do believe it works best in one. If that is not the sign of a good album, I don’t know what would qualify. Quite surprised by this one, I was.
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