Forest of Fog - Nebelhymnen
Self released
Black Metal
8 songs (56:12)
Release year: 2005
Forest of Fog
Reviewed by Misha
Album of the month

Like I often tend to do, some time ago I was searching in the internet archives for band-names to which I’m drawn. These usually tell a lot about a band’s sound and even quality. Through this, I’ve come to know many of favorite bands such as Forgotten Woods, Woods Of Infinity, Mystic Forest, Hate Forest and now this Swiss project. When I found Forest Of Fog, I found another piece of evidence that a single man usually does mean more than a full band, in terms of artistic value. It seems that creativity finds its way through the talents of one rather than to get entangled in the differences between others. Especially for black metal, the representation of these projects midst the top quality bands is far higher than one might expect. Forest Of Fog is such a project: untied to any classic image, philosophy and/or clichés, Ivo Henzi creates music, only for the sake of music.

Henzi plays a style that ties Nagelfar, Nargaroth and Taake together. However not extremely original, borrowing from all three, the combination is unique. He released one phenomenal demo in 2003, an outstanding full-length in 2004 and, for as far as my taste can be projected on others hearing the band, this new album beats both on multiple surfaces. The Demo was called Rabenflug, a title that might origin from a Nagelfar song called Der Flug Des Raben. However there are similarities to be found in terms of music (like some of the riffs), the easiest comparison is clearly Nargaroth’s Rasluka II. In terms of production, riffstructures and other musical attributes, the two are very much alike. Henzi seems a better riff-engineer though, as he proves to be able to fully exploit every idea into a lot of dynamic variation based on one riff. Here exactly lies his quality and disability to bore. In this aspect, he seems to have a lot in common with Høst, and I’m not exaggerating. Taake also deserves a mention when it comes to melodies and the overall feeling reminds of Nattestid. Especially the second half of the disk starts to express the glorious yet melancholic and epic forest-sound that Taake stands for. Something really special about this release is that it’s purely instrumental. Still, I never missed the vocals, for the music varied enough to catch up for the gap left by the discontinuity of a voice. Overall I feel this absence strongly adds to the forest-like atmosphere and the strong melancholy.

Forest Of Fog’s debut, Untergang, was an even more epic release. Nagelfar played a more important role as an influence here, which mostly resulted in the powerfully thrashing guitar parts and heroic sonic explosions that are clearly Nagelfar’s trademark. The disk kicked off with the same intro as to Seven Tears Are Flowing To The River, but Henzi comes with a second acoustic guitar to create a beautiful melody on top of it. However Kanwulf’s version might be a little more melancholic, this version is a pure lust for the ear nonetheless. When the actual song begins, we have a perfect example of the orgasmic Nagelfar explosion previously mentioned: guitars and drums kick in at the same moment with an extremely powerful riff that grabs back at the intro, and thundering drumming. Actually, Henzi uses a drummachine, but in a way that it’s not really possible to tell the difference. I suppose the most logical reason for this is that he’s a guitarist and shares my opinion on the value of a solo-project. Like on Rabenflug, the production was again the typical and semi-raw Nargaroth Rasluka II buzz, with a droning bass undertone. I really respect this since everything was recorder at home. Ofcourse the advantage is the absence of time-pressure, but I would have expected the lack of professional equipment to have bigger influence. However this was a very strong debut, the demo was still better.

As mentioned before, the new album Nebelhymnen is better than both. Here, Henzi really improved as a songwriter. Where some songs on Untergang sometimes weren’t able to sound equally strong throughout, Henzi now enhances the songs with more ideas both quality- and quantity-wise. Thus, not only have the elements used improved, but the addition of piano, solos, more acoustic parts and some gentle keys helped to vary and evolve the style as well. Another aspect in this context that deserves mentioning is that some of the acoustic and piano part do not stand on themselves, but interact with the rest of the music. However they do not always appear together with the music, there is always a clever connection with the riffs, so an ingredient never stands on itself but blends into the dynamic whole. This being more of a subconscious aspect of the art, at this point Forest Of Fog gained on individuality: the extreme sense of dynamics.

The image of the project is the most preferable (personally of course) within the black metal scene: a nature-oriented reflection of the music itself, however this only expresses in the cover artwork. I think I dare lay a parallel with Mystic Forest and Eikenskaden here, as Stefan Kozak seems to have taken a similar stand on the view that black is not about corpsepaint, being grim or sheer aggression. In terms of production, Nebelhymnen again sounds like Nargaroth’s Rasluka II or Geliebte Des Regens and is therefore very consistent. The buzzy but for black metal standards relatively clear production fits very well, and enhances the guitars with a sound that slightly reminds of plentiful raindrops, or the liquid nature of Velvet Cacoon’s Diesel Harp. It may be a bit too deep, but it seems as if the fog part of the name of the band reflects in the production of the guitars. Aside from the improvement in riffage, we see more death/thrash influences here. Some fast and bouncy riffs remind of early Dark Fortress (Tales Of Eternal Dusk), but I assume it’s a comparison rather than an influence. This album seems the most Taake influenced, however it’s definitely not a copy, the many other influences assure that. Some bands imitate, some innovate, but of course there is something in between. Forest Of Fog could be counted to those who ameliorate.

Ofcourse it’s very clear that the atmosphere throughout the album is that of a forest. Not only its beauty, but also its darker side is audible and for some reason a very welcome dose of melancholy goes hand in hand with this. As a comparison, Woods Of Ypres’ demo Against The Seasons, would fit here. And although clean vocals are very rare on Nebelhymnen, both vocal styles are alike, although Henzi put himself a little deeper in the mix and added more reverb. It’s a sad thing I cannot give an idea of what the lyrics are like, for they are not included with the albums. Judging from the song-titles and emotional nature of the music, my lucky guess would be something in the vein of the Odium Immortalis I reviewed two weeks ago: nature themes for contemplation.

Altogether, this is a masterpiece. If the review’s comparisons were able to motivate you, there should be no problem enjoying this. Note that when you decide to buy this, contact Henzi via the given website. It’s all home produced, so don’t whine if the print-quality of the cover-art does not satisfy. When and if ever this release gets old, I’ll be looking forward to anything new this project has to offer!

Killing Songs :
Every single one of them!
Misha quoted 90 / 100
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