Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Forestfather - Hereafter

Forestfather play a captivating style of atmospheric black metal with a lot of well-constructed acoustic passages. The dynamics of the dirty atmospheric parts and the clean parts contrast well, as do the growled/screamed vocals and the melodic clean vocals, which are sometimes harmonized nicely. Although I'm not usually a fan of this style, the atmospheric nature of the music seems to be a natural component of the music rather than the primary goal, as the music is also conventionally driven by riffing and melodies. Each performance is excellent and can stand out in its own right while fitting in with the music, especially the fretless bass playing, something that is rarely heard in black metal and often isn't restrained to the benefit of the music, which it is here. The guitar and bass parts show a strong awareness of each other and fit together well, both performed by Kveldulf without a notable preference being shown on either - they're used properly as different instruments, not just as a matching component of another.

The compositions are characterized by mindful complements between instruments with attention to the feel and flow of the song. Dynamics are more complete than tail-end fills, with each instrument and the vocals making subtle and overt changes during each part - nothing overly technical, not at all jarring, just a continuous awareness of the music that makes it quite interesting. The bass playing is certainly a nice component that is easily noticed, as is the drumming, which varies from lighter, laid-back stuff to fast blasts - not genre-bound to tick away like a blast beat metronome. The organic feel of the music, part of the atmosphere, is greatly helped by both the real, non-triggered drum sounds and the acoustic guitars.

The vocals are a bit odd at times, sometimes taking leaps which take a second or third listen to figure out why they happened. It took a while to get used to them, but it turns out that's a good thing, because the vocalist is capable of both leading and backing - another dimension of the dynamic nature of the composition. Vocals in black metal can easily either be a rhythmic leader, a monotonous background piece, or more traditional lead vocals when they're sung - here, they fill all of those roles at various points. Neither limited nor overdone, they're a nice piece that seemed odd at first but grew on me over a few listens. They're much like the larger picture in how they are composed and performed, fitting in nicely.

Forestfather is quite interesting considering the history behind the band - it was the one-man band of Kveldulf for 14 years before he completed the lineup internationally with Mike on vocals and Jared on drums. These years certainly saw a lot of contemplation and experience, because this whole project came together very nicely in a relatively short period of time. The exceptional coordination of each performance is quite astounding considering the musicians' geographic separation. This is a really good album, a great performance polished by the sands of time.

Forestfather - Hereafter CD.

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