Dark Forest - Beyond the Veil
Cruz Del Sur Music
NWOBHM
12 songs (73'14")
Release year: 2016
Cruz Del Sur Music
Reviewed by Alex

The last time I had a chance to comment on the UK's Dark Forest they were going through their formative years and just released their first eponymous full-length. A few years, a couple of albums for which I missed writing reviews, and a pair of vocalists changes later, Dark Forest just released what seems to be their most monumental work to date in Beyond the Veil.

Starting with the vocals, an unusual place for me to begin an album review since it is almost never a determining factor for me, I was mistaken when I thought Christian Horton would not relinquish the duties. In fact, he did, and after Will Lowry-Scott singing on Dawn of Infinity, Dark Forest settled on Josh Winnard being a vocalist for both The Awakening and now Beyond the Veil. While not superpowerful and soaring as Matias Blad, and not as charismatic as, say, Mike Scalzi (Slough Feg), Josh is very clean, and almost naively melodic, fitting to Dark Forest style of rustic NWOBHM with a folk Skyclad twist to it. The whole album sounds as if coming from a forest amidst good ol’ England, and Josh Winnard is its minstrel, a Robin Hood of sorts (Where the Arrow Falls).

Often my son and I while watching British Premier League soccer matches on TV talk about how it would be a dream trip to go to the UK someday, but not limit it just to the urban areas of London, but travel around the country, delving deeper into nooks and crannies of the countryside, taking in the landscape, the people and the mythology behind this historic land. Well, if we ever do go on that trip, Beyond the Veil might just provide the soundtrack. Whatever you think of the NWOBHM style in general, Dark Forest play it authentically, and from the heart. Sure, many would call their mid-song instrumental forays too convoluted, and album’s success with a listener hinges on how these, or full length instrumentals like Men-An-Tol, would be accepted. If you prefer simpler, shorter song constructions and more muscular riffs, there are moments like that (Earthbound), but Dark Forest prefer to take a lot more twists and turns, twin their guitars with joy (Blackthorn), even break into flamenco at some point (The Wild Hunt). I’m not going to lie, compositions like the closing 14’ long The Lore of the Land are too expansive for me as well, and I prefer dynamism expressed in The Undying Flame or Autumn’s Crown. The latter is a total win, a standout track in my opinion, where the desire to focus on nature and mythology does not detract from delivering a concise and catchy melodic hook I could not get out of my head for days. Tracks like Autumn’s Crown and Blackthorn remind me a bit of the Falconer debut album, although folk direction of Dark Forest is clearly their own.

Beyond the Veil is a special album for Dark Forest, the place where men, heavy metal, nature and history gather, sometimes under the moonlit calmness (Lunantishee), and sometimes while chasing the game (The Wild Hunt). Get ready to enjoy it, but pack some patience to travel the road.

Killing Songs :
Autumn's Crown, Blackthorn, Earthbound, Men-An-Tol
Alex quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by Dark Forest that we have reviewed:
Dark Forest - Dark Forest reviewed by Alex and quoted 75 / 100
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