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Dark Forest: Oak, Ash & Thorn
Dark Forest - Oak Ash & Thorn Art

Dark Forest: Oak, Ash & Thorn

Traditional Heavy Metal
4.5/5.0

With little doubt, since 2007, Midlands metal band Dark Forest has had a consistent presence in the traditional metal underground, but it has been four years since we've listened to a new studio album. Often invoking English history and mythology in lyrical themes, Dark Forest's fifth album Oak, Ash, & Thorn is no exception. Principal songwriter and guitarist Christian Horton found his inspiration from a unique tome: Rudyard Kipling's 1906 fantasy, Puck of Pook's Hill (which was probably found in a dusty old English bookstore). Published in 1906, the book features a series of short stories of historical fantasy and magic set in different periods of English history, often narrated by Puck. (You might recall him from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.) It's all perfect fodder for another Dark Forest album, so on to the music.

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Dark Forest

To remind us all, Dark Forest plays "keep it true" traditional twin guitar-driven melodic heavy metal, often with a dash of folk nuances. The songs within Oak, Ash, & Thorn are no exception. With songs such as The Midnight Folk and Relics, you'll find some speedy heavy metal with plenty of gallop and groove, twin guitar rhythm, and ripping solos. But, in terms of speed, these two songs are tortoises compared to Eadric's Return, a vigorous power metal romp powered by strong riffs and rhythm section. The Woodlander is similar, galloping from the start, only to pause about three minutes for a folk acoustic guitar segue before rising to a large solo. That folk influence rises a bit larger in the title cut, notably after the midpoint where the segue offers Josh Winnard's voice over folk guitar. Of course, the song rises quickly afterwards through strong riff harmony, yet then ends quietly with a symphonic outro. All said, Oak, Ash, & Thorn is everything you would expect from Dark Forest: epic and melodic heavy metal wrapped in English legend, history, and folklore. Easily recommended.



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The Bottom Line

Oak, Ash, & Thorn is everything you would expect from Dark Forest: epic and melodic heavy metal wrapped in English legend, history, and folklore. Easily recommended.

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