Dark Forest (Canada) - Aurora Borealis
Melodic/Atmospheric Black Metal
8 songs (55:30)
Release year: 2006
Dark Forest
Reviewed by Kyle
Archive review

Its albums like Dark Forest’s Aurora Borealis that make me proud to be a metal fan. This is the kind of album I can listen to in its entirety and marvel at the complexity of the genre, and I have to wonder just which and how many bands influenced David Parks to create such a magical sound. This one man band from Canada blends Bathory-style black/Viking metal with beautiful gothic melodies and more than a touch of folk metal to mystifying effect. A band such as Dark Forest must be heard to fully understand the sound I’m describing, and because of this, this will most likely be one of the shortest reviews I’ll ever write.

Canada-based Dark Forest released its debut Aurora Borealis in 2006, and was completely self-financed. David Parks plays all the instruments, and he’s a quite solid musician and is very proficient on all the instruments. His vocals are very raspy, and a bit whispery and soothing in a weird way (maybe it’s how the production gives his voice a nice echo), but still very strong. In fact, the music itself is oddly calming; though the songs are full of blast-beats and galloping palm-muted guitar riffs, the melodies on keys are very simplistic but epic and, at times, serene. The intro to Thurisaz is a great example of this, with its dark sounding bells jumping up and down in tempo before the music explodes into what is one of the best songs on the album, with tremolo-picked chords and blast beats alternating with punk-style drums and riffing.

The first few tracks are straight melodic black metal, but as the album progresses you’ll find increasing folk influence. There’s the occasional sound of shouts and clashing swords in the background, there’s a few acoustic, tribal-sounding segments, and one or two clean-sung parts. The lyrics are also very folk-ish; tales of Viking voyages, nature, gods, and battles are what await you here. It’s all very atmospheric, and while Aurora Borealis is best listened to as “Background music”, it doesn’t matter if you’re listening to it while doing homework or if you focus your full attention on it; either way, you’ll be sucked into the beautiful, melancholic mood that Dark Forest creates.

The one aspect of Aurora Borealis that falls short, though, is that there’s not much to differentiate the tracks from one another. Other than Thurisaz and Eternal Forest, you’ll most likely end up looking at the track listing to find out just which song you’re listening to from time to time. But the truth is that ALL the songs are great, and if you take multiple listens to really get familiar with the tracks, you’ll learn the difference between all of them and what makes each one unique. My last small gripe with Aurora Borealis is that it is bookended by instrumental, atmospheric tracks. While they’re both very good, I think at least one of them should’ve been left out to give way for one more proper track. But as they’re great instrumentals, this isn’t much of a problem. All of the six “Real” tracks are at least seven minutes long (exluding Thurisaz), and each one is fantastic. This will surely satisfy almost any fan of melodic black/Viking metal, and Dark Forest’s sound (which overall sounds like a mix between Bathory and Summoning with a much heavier folk influence) should not be missed.

[NOTE: There is also a re-released version of Aurora Borealis from Bleak Art records, which includes the entire “Demo 2005” and features Griffin Kissack on drums.]

Killing Songs :
Thurisaz, Under The Northern Fullmoon, Northstar, Journey To Ever-Eternal Skies
Kyle quoted 87 / 100
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