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Plenty of ambition & ideas cramped in demo format - 80%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, April 3rd, 2011

This first demo by Forgotten Woods is very like a concept album in miniature, bookended with field recordings of thunder and stormy weather. In 1993, the band's style was raw and the recording method basic (a 4-track recording machine was used) so all the members had to rely on their own ideas, creativity and ambition to distinguish themselves from other black metal bands. As it turns out, the demo proves FW had the creative input as well as the ambition to succeed: the music is often complex and varied as well as energetic and raw. One example of just how raw the band can be is "Grip of Frost" which sounds almost like a motorcycle revving up with repeating deep, rough, almost grinding riffs: it seems like an extended introduction to another song but is actually complete in itself. Even in those early days FW had their experimental side.

The two tracks that are really worth mentioning here though are "Winterly Battle over Northland" and "Winter Landscape", the demo's first and fourth tracks respectively. Track 4, sung in a thin spider-like vocal, can be dramatic in its own way though initially it sounds quite stodgy: the band mixes short bursts of speedy music, drum rolls and blats of irregular rhythm in with the more sedate style. The highlight of the demo is "... Northland", a sprawling piece of ever-changing rhythms, drumbeats and constant changes in pace. A sinister and dark mood spreads over the whole track like brooding clouds. The vocal is thin, almost frail, and crab-like in the way it growls over the music.

FW are very much in control throughout this demo with a solid and consistent level of musicianship that matches their ideas. The only things limiting them here are the short demo format and the primitive conditions in which they made the demo. If the recording sounds a bit cramped to some people, it's not for lack of ideas.