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A very fitting album title - 85%

Noktorn, December 20th, 2007

'Dazzling' would be a good word to describe this. 'Aurora Borealis' is home to some of the most beautiful moments in heavy metal; granted, there are only a few, but those few are absolutely stunning. Halfway through 'Wind And Waves' is a section of clean vocals which unite with the riffing, keys, and drums in the sort of way that makes a song like 'One Rode To Asa Bay' so awe-inspiring. The majority of the music is certainly good, but there are moments so sublime as to dwarf everything else on this disc. Dark Forest's 2005 demo was a good if somewhat unremarkable piece of work, but this album is miles beyond anything one could have dreamed upon hearing that little CDr.

This album really is the perfect synthesis of black, folk, and viking metal. Sections move into each other seamlessly and luxuriously, always thriving with lush instrumentation and delivery. The music here is overwhelmingly melodic and clearly very influenced by Enslaved, though the material on 'Aurora Borealis' is a bit more traditional in nature; almost power metal styled at times, such as with the tinkling keyboards on 'Thurisaz'. There is a beautiful richness to Dark Forest's music on this release, as though you were hearing the very essence of the forest on the album art. There are some truly marvelous tracks on this LP; 'Wind And Waves' is an early stunner, but then comes 'Under The Northern Fullmoon', a reprisal from the previous demo which benefits enormously from the more straightforward production. Most of the music on this album languishes in a rolling midpace, allowing the band to explore every aspect of this organic, frozen atmosphere they craft so beautifully.

The flowing viking melodies of this album are genuinely engaging and never become boring, and are spiced up with just enough blasting and aggression to provide a substantial level of variation. Every instrument is played very capably, but more importantly, each is played with a sense of style which dovetails beautifully with the songwriting. It's forceful, natural, and organic, and none of the material here seems relentlessly click-tracked or engineered. Similarly, the songwriting is very natural; what it lacks in surprises and twists it makes up for in consistently memorable and well-crafted melodies. This is a very easy to listen to and pleasant album all the way through. It does slump in some of the protracted folk/ambient sections; they could likely have been cut from the album without affecting the overall presentation, but there is more than enough excellent metal to be worth your time.

To all those who enjoy melodic, epic metal, 'Aurora Borealis' is most certainly an album to get. This Bleak Art re-release features the tracks from the long out of print 2005 demo as well, so there truly is no reason to not give this a go and hear all of Dark Forest's material to date in one fell swoop. It is black metal without being raw, folk metal without being cheesy, and viking metal without a lack of variation; in short, it is the best of all worlds in a single CD. Most certainly worth your time.

Truly EPIC Pagan Viking Metal! - 95%

MasterMalborgia, August 16th, 2007

The first time I heard Dark forest I knew I had to get my hands on them. They sounded great and I was immediately hypnotized, but would the full album deliver as much as seemed promised? The answer my metal heads is yes. It delivers..... and in an awesome payload.Though the first track is instrumental, it sets a haunting mood. Sample of rushing water flows into the ears and soon after the drums come; carrying a primal pulse. The push of the drums is soon accompanied and the true visage of the epic forest is created in the minds eye. Storms roll as the song slowly wanes down and perfectly transcends into the next track.

Boom! That's the only way I can describe the start of this song. It starts off fast, it starts of hard and just keeps going. Wind and Waves gives a strong yet clear sense of power and courage rippling through the chords of the guitar. When the vocals fly in, David Parks voice grabs you and grips you tight; lot letting go. The high, sharp pierce of it delivers the lyrics in blood--pumping rush. It's the kind of song that makes bob your head for a minute of so...then hurls you into full head bang mere seconds later. Near the end of the track chanting slowly rises up in a low, deep tone;echoing as though one were actually hearing monks and soldiers of yore chanting to the wind and waves. Lyrically this song is stunning and added with everything it truly makes this piece transform.

"Thurisaz";In Elder Futhark this was a rune of chaos, evil and temptation but also one of protection. In my opinion this song is one of the biggest temptation pieces on here. You'll be playing it over and over again. The symphonic guitar and instruments merge breathlessly with the vocals; painting a tapestry of battle and glory as well as the power of the ancient rune. The drums and keyboard are strong in this song and force the vocals upfront, giving amazing background and support to make this a piece of truly epic proportions. The vocals soar out with power and screamed out to present the anger of the pagan spirits and their protection. Though the voice is more scratched then the previous track, it just lends to the presence of the song making it thrive and feel alive. It has a nice round off as it harmonically fades out as it shifts into the fourth track.

Pulse-pounding is the only way I can describe this epic song. Speaking of a grisly battle, the guitar rifts, keyboard symphonic and vocals are magically woven together to create a song rich with illusion and tapestry. The song sails from it's heavy, high peaks to it's slower, more melodic and haunting tunes with precision. As I wrote this and listened again to the song, I had to compel myself to not start swaying along with the beat, else I be swept up in it's rising and falling frenzy.

Where the last song rose and fell with it's speed and power this song comes off the running with everything it's got. Crisp, sharp drums and guitar lead into a song bulging with unbridled energy. With vocals that rip through the air and lash at your flesh, it's hard to believe that this songs eternal power give out. Sure enough though, right when your blood is on fire and your muscles taught the song slows straight down and serene silence of the woodlands falls. Whilst the sounds of nature soothe your blood and body back down, a faint sound of an acoustic guitar rises up and slowly get louder. This gentle "guitar soliloquy" eases out the song on a restful note for the Eternal Forest.

Next is "Northstar." Though I am not a big fan of this track, it still has it's good points. Fierce drums bind the piercing guitar and mesmerizing keyboards together nicely. The vocals, in my mind, are a bit too weak at points and should have been stronger and more guttural, but they still sound great. I found too many instrumental only parts that begged for lyrical power but were denied. Still..this track was well attempted and the chanted hail was excellent and helped make the song better then it would have been without. Though I was not astounded by this song musically, lyrically I was blown away, greatly impressed and would have loved to have seen and heard more added to this song.

Blood...Battle...Blade...All these are summoned as soon as the first chord of this song rings out in true viking glory. With feverous drums and a sample of some ancient battle the track builds to it's peak and we get a glimpse at the empowered and harsh vocals that I had been hoping to hear, helping the lyrics explode out. Though there are few lines in the song...but it matters not for the full essence of this piece emerges with the guitar. The ferocious attack of chords up heaves and reverberates in the body..that is till near the end. In the last stretches it slows down....and the hallow chanting strikes. This chanting stays for roughly two minutes...but shakes you far longer as it winds down and falls into silence.

A dark wind howls as a warriors drum plays and the keyboard slowly follows after. This dark scene slowly fades to a gentle, yet somber melody on the keyboard. The notes roll carefully and slowly, twisting the imagination in wonder. Scenes of the ravens...flying over the wounded and dead on the battlefield flood the mind. Whilst the tune picks up and the wails of the fallen quietly dig in the background the keyboard and drums pick up keenly with minor force. With the sudden rupture and ending to the faster pace, the song eases out with the familiar howl of a dark wind.

The remaining four tracks on the album are off of Dark Forests 2005. Warwinds is an amazing instrumental track that transcends from the demo and opens the door into the original versions of two feature tracks.
"Under The Northern Fullmoon" and "Eternal Forest." "Eternal Forest" has a much more deep and gritty sound compared to it's featured counterpart. I prefer the new track more myself...but I must say that I was blown away by the original "Under The Northern Fullmoon." I would of preferred to keep this song on the album the way it was, with deep, chalky tone and low electric thrum of the guitar to drag this somberly epic to it's pristine heights.

Finally we come to the last track on our journey. "Among Silent Pine." From what I hear, David Parks was hesitant to put this track on...and for the life of me I cannot understand why. This pieces is the perfect closing to the cd and paints it's serenity so vividly, so majestically that one has no choice but to sit back and sigh at it's marvel. This song is by far the most tame and calm on the cd but without it the cd seems to forceful. It drags the rage down and eases you to be prepared for another listen all over again.

The album cover itself is gorgeous. Black, shadowy wolves patrol the points of the dark forest, as a single wolf howls it's midnight cry across the blacked tree tops. The cold gray woods beside trail into the distance and echo prominently in the mind. The interior of the booklet contains the lyrics all the songs minus the demo tracks. It's pages are detailed splashes from the cover. This magnified view gives greater detail to an already amazing piece. Dark forests debut album is a great success and a ever greater listen. Pagan Viking metal to keep you enthralled and praising Odin and Thor for many a cycle.

Outstanding Viking Metal. - 94%

Sceptile_master, January 29th, 2007

I have quickly become a big fan of David Parks’s single man band. After my first listen to this album I was literally blown away. The very fitting intro leads perfectly into the next track 'Wind And Waves' which is part of a string of 6 fantastic tracks each amazing in their own way. The album then finishes with a very cool kind of outro track. This, people, is real viking metal that's in the same sort of league as titles like Windir's 'Arntor' and Falkenbach's '...En Their Medh Riki Fara...'.

The opening track which shares the same name as the album sounds to me like a deliberate build up to the aforementioned 'Wind And Waves' as it goes perfectly. As this happens you are greeted by an immense barrage of blast beat drumming and a quite black metally sounding riff. But then it progresses perfectly into the rest of the song. The progression of all the tracks on the album is done superbly. Each track is different and has it's own unique hook to it. But each track also progresses in its own way while keeping that hook it had from the start or adding new hooks along the way. Well anyways 'Wind and Waves' is a fantastic track. The one that follows called 'Thurisaz' is very catchy rhythmically and the keyboard parts are really cool. A nice simple progression throughout this track but still you'll find yourself listening to it a lot... just like all the tracks.

The next track however had me speechless the first time I heard it... which was before I got the album (I heard it on their myspace) and it instantly made me want to buy the album. Each time it I listen to it it still amazes me so. It's a composition of a genius. It's unexplainable... you have to hear to believe it people. It's now one of my favorite viking metal tracks of all time. It's called 'Under The Northern Fullmoon' and I'm not going to try even explaining it... just listen to it and be amazed.

Then 'Eternal Forest' kicks in with some more blast beating and cool keyboard and guitar. It breaks down too something a bit of a more epic section and then suddenly a barrage of hard hitting synths and guitar riffage and you're already hooked. It's a great song, lots of nice epicy parts. Well I'm not going to completely give you a full description of the whole song but there's also some use of a Jew's Harp in there which is very well done. I love the Jews Harp and was very pleased to see its appearance in this track.

'Northstar' is next up and gives more of that distinctive Dark Forest sound you should be craving for more of by this time in the album. More great keyboard effects here. The keyboard settings on the album as a whole are varied and very well chosen. Anyways some nice clean, deeply sung choir like bits at the end to which I liked and overall another great track. The next song 'Journey To Ever-Eternal Skies' is apparently very meaningful and personal to David himself. It's a very atmospheric song with very little vocal work. It's fantastic really and the rhythmic kind of "ohh"ing near the end is really cool.

The next track sounds like an instrumental that's kind of outro-ish to me. It's very nicely done. A bit different in some way from the rest of the album with some instruments introduced that don't appear on the other songs to give it a really good feel. Like what sounds like a violin. All the wind sounds and such also help with giving it this great atmosphere. Yes this album has a lot of atmosphere. Then David uses again his amazing skills of making epic sounding drum parts and synths to kind of kick the track into it's finale in which it then cuts and ends with some more nice wind sounds and a keyboardy bit. All in all a great way to end a great album.

Anyhoo onto the other parts of the album. Bits like production and so on. The production on this album is in my opinion for a home recording, fantastic. Sounds very nice overall and if it was too glossed up it may lose some of its effect. Also the drums on this album are programmed (done by a computer). But the drum samples as a whole sound nice and they are well programmed. Sounds great and I have no problems with it what-so-ever.

Well overall this album creates fantastic atmosphere and Dark Forest have a very distinctive and far from generic sound going. David Parks has taken the viking metal sound and made it his own and has done an outstanding job of it too. I highly recommend this record to everyone, not just fans on the viking metal genre.