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Self-described as “Anglo-Saxon Metal” from the UK, Forefather present a refreshing, stripped-down take on the viking/folk metal genre. Brothers Wulfstan and Athelstan have purposely tried to distance themselves from the stereotypes that go along with the black metal label and it would appear they have succeeded in this quest. Last of the Line on their own label, Seven Kingdom Records is the sixth full length from this duo. I can almost taste the salt of the sea spray aboard the long boat as this journey is about to begin.
One of the most commendable aspects is coincidentally what happens to not be there, which is the absence of gimmicks. Everything is presented in a straightforward, no nonsense style: driving rhythms, measured guitar work with precision solos and well-timed keyboard passages. This formula is best demonstrated on the song “Chorus of Steel”. In addition, Forefather manage to bridge a gap between harsh and clean vocals. ”By the Deeds” presents a nice juxtaposition of the two vocal styles. ”Up High” becomes the album pace setter with its slow, deliberate beat; though not much of head turner and more aptly labeled as filler material. ”Wolves of Prayer” continues the attack with a galloping, pulsing tempo and a menacing vocal display reminiscent of John Haughm of Agalloch.
“Doomsday Dawns” appears to be the albums epic centerpiece from it’s opening mechanical, staccato guitar assault to the anthemic chorus and strategic instrumental breakdown— this song embodies all of the power that Forefather can wield. Too much riffing can sometimes become cumbersome and would seem to weigh down the songs “Shadows of the Dead” and “Spears of Faith”. Though passable they just don’t have the same spirit that the other notable songs possess. Last of the Line closes with an instrumental “Into the Rising Sun” which bears a certain similarity to a cross hybridization of Crom meets Summoning. A very fitting, if somewhat repetitive ending due to the implementation of a drum machine only really noticeable on this song.
Last of the Line was definitely more than I expected from Forefather and makes me eager to explore their back catalog. Not without its faults, Last of the Line is still a very majestic, sophisticated work. Forefather have managed to combine all the best aspects of bands like Agalloch, Falkenbach, Finntroll and Crom along with enough melody, aggression and viking lore for a very unique listening experience.
Originally Written for Adequacy.net: