Forefather - Tales From A Cloud​-​Born Land review

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Band: Forefather
Album: Tales From A Cloud​-​Born Land
Release date: May 2017

01. Opening
02. Two Sacred Oaks
03. One Blood And One Bone
04. Strongbow's Death
05. In Victory We Feast
06. Out Of Time
07. Daughter Of Twilight

Tales From A Cloud-Born Land is the Forefather half of the English Steel split released earlier this year, a joint venture with The Meads Of Asphodel. Forefather, the world's premiere (perhaps only?) Anglo-Saxon folk metal band, has been quietly dominating its own little corner of the metal world for a number of years now, and this release, half a split EP it may be, is further proof that no one will ever dethrone them.

"Two Sacred Oaks" starts off with very basic Forefather fare: programmed drums keep a steady, brisk pace while Athelstan's distinctive bright, distorted rhythms roll underneath Wulfstan's ragged growls, eventually coming to a typically hallowed-sound clean chorus. I still enjoy Forefather at their least adventurous, which is what "Two Sacred Oaks" demonstrates, but such an unremarkable opener gave me cause to worry about the rest of the EP; I certainly wouldn't blame any band for filling out a split EP with the chaff and saving the wheat for the full-lengths, but that would mean my setting aside Tales From A Cloud-Born Land and hoping for something more interesting down the line.

"One Blood And One Bone" quickly dispels any such anxieties with its nimble, groovy guitar lead, a reminder that Athelstan can stand with the best riffsmiths in the business. The sudden burst of articulation and inspiration flows into more sounds of traditional Forefather: "Strongbow's Death" and "In Victory We Feast" (a cheekily self-referential number) offer strong examples of the tones and scales that Forefather has staked out for itself in an exclusive sphere of influence. Wulfstan's clean vocals are both airy and commanding in a peculiarly folksy way, somehow both thin and throaty in a manner that perfectly complements the razor quality of the black metal elements and the rich melodies interpreted from English musical tradition. Athelstan's lead tone balances rawness and jangliness; his sound is bright, cutting, and still full, able to straddle the divide between savage tremolo picking and soulful folk twang. With such a powerful midsection, it's clear that Tales From A Cloud-Born Land was not a throwaway project for Forefather, but as serious a musical endeavor as any full-length release.

Moreover, this EP shows Forefather stepping outside its comfort zone with the last two tracks, a couple of unusual compositions for the duo. "Out Of Time" sounds nearly like an old folk-rock standard - not quite convincing with the sharpness and passion of the guitars, but the harmonies, the relaxed atmosphere, the reserved pace, and the melodies themselves suggest influences from some time in between the death of Hereward the Wake and the advent of heavy metal. The spacey chorus sounds like an artifact of classic prog, and that impression persists into the EP's final track. Velvety pop synths bear "Daughter Of Twilight" into a lead riff shared by piano and guitar, only transitioning into a ruddy, distortion-driven trot at the halfway point. The shimmery caress of the synths might catch an unsuspecting listener off-guard, but Forefather fans will be able to detect the right shades of historic fantasy in those unearthly tones.

Tales From A Cloud-Born Land is a surprisingly colorful half-hour and should be considered an essential part of the 2017 folk metal diet. I derive great pleasure from hearing one of my favorite folk metal projects continuing to grow and maintain its hold on its unique sound.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Production: 7


Written on 24.10.2017 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 4   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 99 users
25.10.2017 - 12:29
Awesome album, simply fantastic band. Nice review, thanks man!
25.10.2017 - 14:30
Bad English
Amazing band, amazing EP, I really hope this band will never split up.
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
25.10.2017 - 16:36
Written by Wes on 25.10.2017 at 12:29

Awesome album, simply fantastic band. Nice review, thanks man!

Sure thing. Forefather is one of my favorites.
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
25.10.2017 - 22:30
Does any one else hear "maiden-esque' riffs in "One Blood and One Bone" starting at the mark 8:30?

Tasty riffs though!

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