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Overdone, But Still Showing Promise - 79%

Khull, May 20th, 2009

Mirkwood is a two-person atmospheric / symphonic black metal project hailing from California. Their first demo, Journey's End, featured some decent enough music, especially for a first demo. Since then they haven't exactly been productive – I was really hoping for a full length or EP by now, but oh well.

Unlike their earlier demo, Winter Forest is primarily more instrumental, focusing exclusively on keyboards weaving a captivating, ambient soundscape, forsaking drums and guitars for all but a couple songs. For the few who have heard Journey's End and were able to experience AK's voice, it might disappoint you to know his vocals aren't present anywhere on this album save Dreams of Night. Similarly, if you also loved the guitar riffs and their somewhat unique distorted sound, they are also absent on all but the last minute of Ich Sterbe and Dreams of Night.

There isn't a whole got going on in this 18 minute long demo. If anything, it shows the competence of Mirkwood in composing good music, but there's not many hooks or gimmicks here to satisfy just any listener. At this point, too many albums have done what Winter Forest does, and they've done it better. Songs like Dreams of Night and Ich Sterbe bring us back to the goodness that was Journey's End, but I honestly can't praise this demo like I would their earlier. It's solid, but that's it. Pick it up if you can find it; the music certainly isn't bad.