Skyforest - A New Dawn review




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Reviewer:
8.7

41 users:
7.90
Band: Skyforest
Album: A New Dawn
Release date: February 2020


01. Along The Waves
02. The Night Is No More
03. Heart Of The Forest
04. Rebirth
05. Wanderer
06. Scattered Ashes


This album is almost the antithesis of everything that black metal was designed to be, and I love it for it.

A New Dawn is the third full album from Skyforest, a Russian project helmed by Bogdan Makarov, who plays all instruments in the band (clean vocals are provided by Michael Rumple and Clare Webster of Flood District and Edenfall, respectively). The most natural genre classification for A New Dawn would be atmospheric black metal, with its widespread use of tremolo, and the presence of blast beats and harsh shrieked vocals (which are admittedly usually buried quite low in the mix). However, this is a million miles away from the likes of Wolves In The Throne Room or even Agalloch; between the extensive use of synths and strings, predominantly sung vocals and hypermelodic, folk-influenced songwriting, Skyforest is far closer to Saor, but arguably even more "epic" and soaring. I'm sure Euronymous would be horrified to hear that the rawness of those early Norwegian black metal records had ultimately led to something as majestic and polished as "The Night Is No More".

Skyforest certainly isn't the first act to conjure some type of folky, symphonic melodic black metal sound; plenty of artists (many of whose names are unfortunately eluding me at present) have similarly pushed the sound of bands such as Moonsorrow to these extremes. Nevertheless, very few of these artists have managed to be so committed to this approach without sounding overly cheesy and saccharine. A New Dawn, with its appropriately vibrant and mystical cover art, possesses a real sense of conviction as it takes the listener on a journey into a fantasy world of wonder and opportunity (the synths on opening track "Along The Waves" in particular give me a real Lord Of The Rings vibe, as well as bringing to mind the likes of "Mana" by Equilibrium and other folk metal epics). This is partly managed by the relentless nature of the songwriting; aside from the soft acoustic introductions to "Along The Waves" and "The Night Is No More", there is little in the way of downtime, with none of the instrumental interludes or spoken word segments that other bands might be tempted to include. Whilst it's by no means 45 minutes of continuous tremolo, there's no substantial pauses for breath amidst the black metal segments and more epic symphonic parts, and as such the album begins to overwhelm the listener before all is said and done.

Although the style is pretty much the same throughout, the tone changes between songs. "Along The Waves" is a very uplifting, rousing opener, and the soaring synths and harmonizing vocals on "The Night Is No More" similarly shine brightly, even set against the more prominent blast beats and muted harsh vocals. In contrast, "Heart Of The Forest" has a more melancholic tone, helped in part by the more pronounced position of the guitars in the mix, as well as the almost whispered harsh vocals that are reminiscent of some of John Haughm's work in Agalloch. This tone is pushed even further on "Wanderer", arguably the jewel in A New Dawn's crown, a sorrowful-yet-beautiful piece featuring intensely dramatic strings and excellent harsh/clean vocal interplay, along with some of the record's most pleasant lead guitar work, which is generally strong throughout. The variety in mood across A New Dawn prevents any staleness creeping into the combination of stirring melodic synths/strings/clean vocals and the black metal instrumental elements, which remain captivating throughout.

There have been a few quality folky atmos-black releases already this year (see Belore's Journey Through The Mountains And Valleys for something more Summoning/Caladan Brood-oriented, or otherwise the more folk-heavy yet similarly compelling Thunder In The Mountains by Dzö-nga), but Skyforest have delivered something truly charming and emotionally resonant with A New Dawn. For those that like their black metal to be grim, this is certainly not the album for you, but for those of a more melodic disposition, A New Dawn is well worth checking out.


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


 



Written on 28.03.2020 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments

Comments: 8   Visited by: 200 users
28.03.2020 - 19:57
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
I have to say, a folky atmo black album isn't quite the album I would expect from you, but I'll be checking this one out for sure.
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28.03.2020 - 20:17
nikarg
Mod
What the guy above me said; you are probably the last person I was expecting to review this (along with Che, I guess). The fantastic cover art made me listen to this about a week ago - only one time though - and it did remind me of Saor. I can't say I was blown away but I'll give it another try because of this review.
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28.03.2020 - 20:32
musclassia
Written by RaduP on 28.03.2020 at 19:57

I have to say, a folky atmo black album isn't quite the album I would expect from you, but I'll be checking this one out for sure.


Written by nikarg on 28.03.2020 at 20:17

What the guy above me said; you are probably the last person I was expecting to review this (along with Che, I guess). The fantastic cover art made me listen to this about a week ago - only one time though - and it did remind me of Saor. I can't say I was blown away but I'll give it another try because of this review.


I'm a bit surprised that you're both so surprised - I guess it's not a primary taste or anything, but I do like moving melodic metal, including some folky stuff (particularly Moonsorrow), and I've liked a reasonable number of atmo-black albums in the past (see Saor's album last year for examples of both). But admittedly I don't know this area quite that well, and I was a bit surprised how much I enjoyed this on first listen, so did look up some other reviews to see if other people were as positive. I feel like it's possibly not that standout to anyone especially familiar with the sound, but it really caught my interest (it possibly helped that it kept playing when my laptop froze, and I got to enjoy it in isolation whilst I waited for everything else to finally unfreeze).
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28.03.2020 - 20:43
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by nikarg on 28.03.2020 at 20:17

What the guy above me said; you are probably the last person I was expecting to review this (along with Che, I guess). The fantastic cover art made me listen to this about a week ago - only one time though - and it did remind me of Saor. I can't say I was blown away but I'll give it another try because of this review.

I was surprised this is here, same when we had dark fortress and this, i thought its troy
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Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

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28.03.2020 - 20:44
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Love this album, band, and artwork, i see me try go to outerrealms whit Lake of Tears to see first day of year when sun never sets on late May, and in August see last time when its up 24h. Its my bm i have conection whit it, artwork
----
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
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28.03.2020 - 20:52
musclassia
Written by Bad English on 28.03.2020 at 20:44

Love this album, band, and artwork, i see me try go to outerrealms whit Lake of Tears to see first day of year when sun never sets on late May, and in August see last time when its up 24h. Its my bm i have conection whit it, artwork


Yeah, the artwork is something else on this one, one of my favourite in a while
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28.03.2020 - 21:16
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by musclassia on 28.03.2020 at 20:52

Written by Bad English on 28.03.2020 at 20:44

Love this album, band, and artwork, i see me try go to outerrealms whit Lake of Tears to see first day of year when sun never sets on late May, and in August see last time when its up 24h. Its my bm i have conection whit it, artwork


Yeah, the artwork is something else on this one, one of my favourite in a while

Older one check out about Nils Holgersson
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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
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29.03.2020 - 10:00
Nejde
This actually made me look up Belore because of the comparison to Caladan Brood since Echoes of Battle is one of my all time favourite albums. Wasn't disappointed! So kudos for the great review and for referencing other bands too. Now we just need a new Caladan album.
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