Forgotten Land - A Forest is Myne Home Review
by Mark Hensch
Much in the same way early Summoning works such as Lugburz and Minas Morgul (both 1995) showcased a band completely reworking heavy music in a new way yet still not wholly unique, so too does Forgotten Land's A Forest is Myne Home stretch musical boundaries to the point of breaking. In all honesty, I'll wager that the comparison couldn't be more apt; the closest thing I can safely say sounds like Forgotten Land is Summoning themselves! Regardless, this new demo marks a challenging paradigm shift in what it means to be a metalhead.
The reason bands like Summoning have had such longetivity amongst metalheads (rather than more varied music fans) is that they started off with plenty of heavy sounds on their first few albums to hook more people and keep them for the inevitable descent into militaristic ambient/folk that the band now uses. Though great music will always be great music, we metalheads can be a stubborn bunch and it is little surprise Summoning didn't go soft-to-heavy first and rather mellowed out from a harsher beginning. Forgotten Land is the exact opposite; the band focuses more on instrumental nuances and somber ambience, the likes of which contain no ultra-heavy riffs or blistering percussion.
With this in mind, does it still work well? The answer is thankfully a resounding yes; the man behind this quaint little project, one Lord Raven Tetrarch, has done an excellent job with this solo effort. Despite relatively few vox, the songs are crystal-clear and full-bodied, the kind of pieces that are not right in your face. As for the atmosphere (this is after all ambient/blackened/folk), Forgotten Land is full of epic grandeur and starry-eyed wonder; the melodies are thematically exquisite (this is loosely inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit in another Summoning coincidence) and memorable to boot. At times, the relative simplicity of the music can be a bit offputting, but overall this demo is an interesting start on the quest to conquer the ambient world.
Put out by Tetrarch's own Dungeons Deep label, A Forest is Myne Home opens with "Intro," a song which describes exactly what kind of music this label will someday be known for in the underground. Twittering birds cheep and chirp as lush, delicate synth tones swell gracefully into your ears, and one has images of walking over trailing meadows and endless fields. In an interesting twist, this calm jaunt is soon replaced by the stark morbidity of "Golem's Cave." It what is (conceptually at least) the demo's crowning glory, Forgotten Land has somehow effortlessly created a stony, militaristic backbone of percussion. Sounding in all seriousness like drops of acidic water dripping in perpetually-blackened caverns, the song eventually slips in an utterly disarming, melancholy synth melody that is as cold and smooth as the rock beneath your bare feet. A last, especially booming set of marching percussion that would do Summoning shame shows up next, and ends the song on a surprisingly fist-pumping close. "A Forest is Myne Home" is ethereal medieval folk tones set to synthesizers and the nocturnal workings of unspoiled nature. Though this is just one person, it does not appear the song has any flaws in terms of multiple melodies, the likes of which are all notable and well-crafted. Most interesting is the simplistic, bestial poem recited in a mournful growl. The vocals are decent, but I can't see this being used in any other musical context I'm familiar with, and am thus mildly confused. They are definitely one-of-a-kind, and worth checking out on your own. The whimsical "Over Snow by Winter Snow" is shimmering, pulsing, and radiant militant synths twisted into a melancholy blizzard of melodic velvet. Multiple folk melodies run rampant, and the song's jingling percussion adds a very "yuletide" spirit to the backing instruments. The band's crystalline ambience is flushed to the forefront, a sort of rushing buzz akin to water dripping off icicles, and all of it makes for a grandiose instrumental. "Into Black Voids We Tread Our Maudlin Paths" has thundering war-march drums and moaning synth refrains, unnerving listeners slowly but assuredly. The song's high-point is the way it injects fiery wrath into each subtle swell of synth, adding an intense, in-your-face poignancy that makes this the best song on the disc. A brief, chilled out ambient breakdown will throw you off the trail for a second or three all before the orchestral bliss kicks in again effectively ending the disc on a rollercoaster ride off a jagged precipice. "I Who Haveth Six Names" is the sort of buzzing Mutiilation/Beherit worship that this band could actually do very well, the howled incantations and ominous Summoning tones turned into shiny, dark, and ebony foreboding. Tacked on as a sort of lingering curse to the disc, this is too short to truly love and put on repeat multiple times, but it shows a promising idea. For the record I think a cross between buzzing, lo-fi, and nihilistic black metal with some subtle ambient synth work ala the old George A. Romero zombie flicks would make a creepy, unnerving, and stellar combination....that's just my take though and regardless this is still good stuff, just a little anticlimactic.
At first I was admittedly skeptical of this; just how many ambient Tolkien projects can there be in the world? Initial misgivings aside Forgotten Land's A Forest is Myne Home is a solid effort from a still relatively new project, and one I'd be happy to hear more from in the future. As of this writing Forgotten Land is currently working on a debut full-length, the likes of which will further expand the band's sound into new realms of creepy wonder and blackened wanderlust; with this in mind, I'd say that A Forest is Myne Home is not the one ring to rule them all but at least the quest has been undertaken. Forest is all-in-all a decent start, perfectly grand on its own but perhaps a mere hint of even better things to come; this fits the theme of the Hobbit really well....anyone remember what Tolkien wrote after this? Forgotten Land's masterwork is still on the horizons folks.
2. Golem's Cave
3. A Forest is Myne Home
4. Over Snow by Winter Sown
5. Into Black Voids We Tread Our Maudlin Paths
6. I Who Haveth Six Names.
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Forgotten Land - A Forest is Myne Home
Label:Dungeons Deep Records
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