Every so often a black metal album comes along and really impresses me. So far, Immortal Frost Productions has been doing that lately. But even more rare than that comes along that just blows me completely out of the water; case in point, Astral Winter’s 2016 album Forest of Silence.” It took under 3 minutes of track 1 to do that.
I could easily end this review simply by saying “staggering achievement.” But to give this album the proper respect it deserves and as much work as went into this, I can do more. So at what point do I begin to do this justice?
As if it wasn’t enough to impress me with the music/vocals alone. Then I found out it was one guy; 1 guy!?! That one guy is Australian mastermind Josh Young. Forest of Silence is pretty much symphonic black metal although it’s albums like this that I really hate to put labels on. While there are a couple of clean and harsh vocal guests who appear at a few moments, he does it all.
It has to be heard…. We’re talking rivaling great opening tracks like Emperor’s “Curse You All Men” or “Ye entrancemperium.” The vocals which sound like they are being spewed from a spiritually descending person are also reminiscent of Emperor’s “Nightside Eclipse” or “Anthems” era. Most of the songs are pretty long (thus the number of tracks on the album) but at no point does that leave someone for boredom.
The majority of the lightning-fast guitars are backed by keyboards often mimicking a somewhat choral sound which adds yet another depth. Every so often piano is incorporated and even harpsichord. This is brutality mixed with sheer beauty. There were a couple of moments where I thought the virtuoso guitar was going to go over into the Dragonforce-esque prog metal field but thankfully it didn’t.
Stand out tracks; Every bloody one of them.
What else needs to be said? Forest of Silence is quite the ironic title as this 7 track full-length dynamic album just simply needs to be heard. Period. A jaw-dropping, goose-bump, staggering achievement from a criminally underappreciated and incredibly talented individual….one of the best black metal releases I’ve heard in the past decade.
Forest of Silence is available on Immortal Frost Productions on Ltd. CD (500 copies) and digital download. This album WILL sell out in its physical form so if you want one, go directly to the label lucky enough to have signed this artists.