‘Oak, Ash & Thorn’
Cruz del Sur Music
FFO: Twisted Tower Dire, Iron Maiden, Darkest Era, Lunar Shadow, Cloven Hoof, Wytch Hazel
Throughout the last decade, Dark Forest have delivered a plethora of outstanding heavy metal albums that have received much critical acclaim. The band have melded heavy metal with touches of power metal alongside English mythologies and history to create something that is actually relatively unique amongst their peers and nearly four years on from their last album, Dark Forest are back with their latest release ‘Oak, Ash & Thorn’.
There isn’t anything here with ‘Oak, Ash & Thorn’ that Dark Forest have not already done before. However, what the band do, they do very well and therefore why would the band change a winning formula? That means that what the listener gets here with ‘Oak, Ash & Thorn’ are bouncing and infectious melodies that will have the person singing along almost instantly, swinging that drinking horn around in a mead hall whilst a pig roasts on an open fire. This can be seen during ‘Avalon Rising’, ‘Wayfarer’s Eve’ and ‘The Midnight Folk’, the latter of which has a chorus so infectious it requires the listener to wear a mask and may just be one of the best tracks Dark Forest have ever written. Furthermore, even the epic tracks here are massively enjoyable, even if it is open to debate whether the title track is an ambiguous ode to Brexit. For fans of Dark Forest, it will be no surprise that the musicianship here is second to none and vocalist Josh Winnard delivers a strong performance that is worthy of Bruce Dickinson or Tobias Sammet whilst the music touches beautifully upon Cloven Hoof, Twisted Tower Dire, Darkest Era and even later Iron Maiden.
‘Oak, Ash & Thorn’ shows that Dark Forest are still firing on all cylinders, delivering an album that demands replays with its excellently crafted songs and style. Fans of this music should check it out if they have not already and raise their horns to an album which may just be a dark horse for one of the albums of the year.