Dark Forest (UK)
Dawn Of Infinity
posted on 11/2011 By:
I like a good turkey sandwich; lightly toasted sourdough with some lettuce, tomato, spicy mustard and a bountiful pile of gobble-gobble is a combination that's equipped to win. Unfortunately, it's also a combo I've encountered enough times in my life that it takes some extra wizardry to really get me excited about sampling yet another variation on the ol' recipe. In the case of Dark Forest's latest heavy metal hoagie, Dawn of Infinity, all the quality ingredients are there, but it's still a few accenting components short of something to shit your pants over. (In a non chili-cheese-fries-with-jalapenos-from-a-dirty-street-cart kind of way.)
Each tune comes down the conveyor belt getting assembled with the requisite stack of drums, rhythm guitar, bubbling bass, soaring vocals and fiery soloing, but there's not enough individual embellishment to help separate one song from the next, so attention can wander when the record's played from start to finish. No, I wasn't expecting a five minute drum solo track to break things up, but there's a reason fans of this style of galloping traditional metal still return to records like Battle Hymns thirty years later: despite their often questionable choice of Manowardrobe, DeMaio and crew definitely knew how to throw down a wealth of flavors that spanned everything from ripper hard rock stadium shakers to sprawling epics blanketed by falling arrows and lovable Orsonian yarns. And I'll tell you what, Dark Forest: Brian Blessed is alive and well, and he could likely be tempted into your camp with a few choice hunks of delicious, delicious bacon brittle.
On the flipside, the band has shown noticeable growth with each subsequent release since their inception a decade ago. The addition of Will Lowry-Scott for 2009's Defender EP was huge, and his Blaze Bayley by way of Gianni Nepi (Dark Quarterer) style delivers once again and gives just the right amount of wailing energy when Dawn of Infinity's choruses get especially boisterous. The opening "Hourglass" is particularly ear-worming, even if it does suffer a bit from an overly repetitive chorus ("Lord of the Hourglass" repeats sixteen times in the span of 5:35 -- Bruce Dickinson, eat your heart out.) Additionally, despite the album's general propensity to bury the guitar when it comes to rhythm, the leads and busy bass-work throughout each tune are absolutely stellar and could very well be worth the price of admission alone.
Unfortunately, a fair shake of the ensorcelling fun that's conjured by the lively leads and inspired bass-runs ends up getting bogged down by the album's flatter deliveries. "Under the Greenwood Tree" and closer "Deadly Premonition" both show evidence of the kind of energy I would expect transfers really well in a live setting, but that vigor ends up diluted through the studio translation. And slower, darker cuts like "Through A Glass Darkly" and "The Stars My Destination" fail to grip, despite being sandwiched between strong offerings such as "The Tor" and the vibrant "Black Delta."
Still, there's enough potential here to land Dark Forest in the right neighborhood. And as I mentioned, your money's likely well-spent if you count yourself a hapless sucker for blistering, melodic leads and a well-wailed chorus. But during a time when most folks' disposable income is tighter than Oprah's pants directly from the dryer, I also wouldn't blame a fellow for holding out until the next offering.
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