Dark Forest - Dawn of infinity 4/5
2. Lightyears on
3. The green knight
4. Seize the day
5. The tor
6. Through a glass darkly
7. The stars my destination
8. Under the greenwood tree
9. Black delta
10. A deadly premonition
If it’s even possible for a CD to be both very, very good and a bit of a disappointment, Dark Forest have managed to pull it off with their 2nd full length CD. On one hand it improves greatly on certain areas of their 2009 debut, while on the other it feels that some minor stylistic changes have stunted them slightly and kept them on more or less the same level, prevented them from climbing even higher.
Griping comes later though, because there is a great deal to love about ‘Dawn of infinity’ and it seems only fair to sing its praises before descending into nit-picking. Certainly the one major thing about the first CD that needed to be improved on has been, and bloody how. Guitarist Christian Horton gave his level best as a vocalist, but the truth is he was the band’s only weak point – his nasally voice always passable but honestly quite amateurish compared to the stellar musicianship on show.
Replacing his strained lilting and weak half-growls that were employed in lieu of actually singing the trickier bits is newcomer Will Lowry-Scott, with Horton retaining his role as main songwriter and a truly excellent guitar player. Lowry-Scott’s raging operatic timbre really is, to quote from the 2nd track on this CD, “lightyears on” from his predecessor, a different prospect altogether and a tenfold improvement. The soaring, blood-pumping baritone of the new man suits the none-more-British traditional metal of Dark Forest down to a tee, and raises many of the choruses to almost unbelievable levels of power and inspiration.
In order to make the most of their new frontman, the rest of the band seem to have consciously stripped back the songs a little in order to fully focus on arranging powerful vocal performances, and while the CD is overall a storming success, some of the songs seem to have lost that unique character that distinguished the first CD.
Certainly on the songs with the increased power metal inspiration, such as the galloping “Lightyears on”, the straight-ahead approach simply bludgeons its way into the listener’s affection, leaving no time for contemplating what could be getting played instead. The opening track, “Hourglass” also goes to show just how commanding the new frontman is as he turns a simply 4-word chorus from something that could be maddeningly repetitive into a mandatory hymn.
Despite a few leanings into science fiction, the lyrics for the most part remain steeped in English history and folklore, and the reduction of the weaving guitar lines and medieval-inspired intros sometimes makes it feel as though they are being shorn of their identity to some degree. The rousing, madly infectious “Under the greenwood tree” is the one most likely to call back memories of the Horton-fronted songs, and goes to show there is room both for the booming of the new vocalist and the sweeping Arthurian melodies.
Still, these are moans for those who had an idea for a long while of what Dark Forest could sound like, and when casting that to one side in favour of just listening to what they actually do sound like now there is precious little to complain about on ‘Dawn of infinity’. The only real epic track, “The tor” holds its own with anything on the ‘s/t’ and the captivating poem-adapted-to-song “The green knight” shows that peeling back some of the musical layers doesn’t necessarily harm the atmosphere.
With a couple of songs that don’t reach the same heights as those on their debut, it still feels that despite their expanded talents Dark Forest have a fifth gear they are yet to find, but now fully armed and with 2 impressive CDs under their collective belt they definitely seem to be going places.
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