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Love, loss and pain - 100%

vk66, January 2nd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Firedoom Music

Can you imagine a soulful death/doom album? An album with an absolute sense of loss as if there's nothing else left to look forward to but a true sense of pain entwined in the coldness of a Swedish winter? Imagine the gloomy skies, the terrible snow, the coldness seeping in through your breath, in the cracks of your hands now weak and fragile due to the absolute devastation of your senses just by being human? Can you imagine that? The emotional despair of being in such a frame of mind, unable to comprehend why or how but just closing your eyes trying to introspect but end with no answers, each and every single time. That exactly is what the EP is all about. Where Dreams Turn to Dust is an overlooked doom/death masterpiece and must be one of the best kept Swedish secrets. This is pristine melodic doom/death and must be one of the best EP's of the genre. When was the last time you've heard of an absolutely emotional record in this genre of music? One can throw in Swallow The Sun's work as a point of comparison, yes, it will stand up to what Forest of Shadows offers on this release but where any material will fall short in comparison is the songwriting department.

The EP opens with Eternal Autumn, as the quiet enchanting flute solo wraps your senses, Niclas Frohagen's vocals kick in tattooing the pain of his voice on you, these are possibly one of the best and consistent vocals I've heard in this genre of music. The vocals truly represent the disappointment and immense pain of the lyrics, neither are these the best ones every written nor is there a significant literary value but what the lyrics succeed in doing is expressing the sadness at it's best and cohesively puts the agitation of a soul immersed in loss and lost in memories, example below -

Amidst withering leaves
I had found my beloved
Bloodstained and pale
Falling into the forever
So silent.

Aware of my presence
She turned towards me
Her agonizing stare,
one last breath and she whispered: Everything dies.


Another aspect of this album that is most impressive are the vocals, when Niclas is singing the 3rd line from the above paragraph you actually notice the agony translating from the words and it being passed on. This is all across the album and makes for an absolute treat to the senses, you seldom see vocalists translating the written emotion through their vocals while the guitars support them with the most beautiful and consistent riffs. If one dissects Eternal Autumn, you'd probably count the riffs on your fingers but how well they've been arranged and built together with the drumming on this album is everything. The atmosphere as such engulfs you for every single moment; considering the shortest song on the album is 8:20 long, the band absolutely holds your attention every single second of every song and in all honesty leaves you begging for more. The tone of the guitars is an important aspect of this release, as much as the distorted sections sound in perfect harmony with the vocals creating the atmosphere, the clean parts are the most beautiful which truly add the gloom to the sadness. Slow, melodic and hurting.

My favourite track of this EP is Of Sorrow Blue, as this is the band at it's melodic best. This song truly represents what Forest of Shadows is all about, most delicate acoustic parts adorn the passage between verses as the vocals disturb your notion of calm. The guitars are gentle and heavy, transcending slowly through the thick atmosphere which clears up to a beautiful violin solo. These transitions are done to perfection: imagine a glimmer of sunshine on a snowy day, the hope it brings, the momentary satisfaction it fills us with and leaves as quickly as it touched us pushing us back into the same abyss of never ending darkness. This is exactly what the band does to perfection. The depth in the vocals push what these songs sound to the next level, there's not an aorta of joy or hope, it's an outright descent into darkness and doubt. The sound on Swallow The Sun's The Morning Never Came album is the closest I can think of as a comparison,. Take that sound, slow it down in places, add the loneliness of a winter to it and drench it all in the pain of longing and we have this EP, an absolute masterpiece and a jewel amongst releases in this genre.