28 Oct 2013
Forestfather - Hereafter [Full length] (2013, Contaminated Tones Productions)
Forestfather is a band of Chilean origin. An earlier incarnation of the band, Eternal Winter, was created in 1998 by Kveldulf Bjalfason, and the debut album as Forestfather "Hereafter" has been underway ever since, being finished upon the completion of the lineup in 2012 with the addition of Jared Moran on drums and Michael Rumple doing the vocals. Many may already be acquainted with Moran's drumming as he has performed and recorded with numerous bands before. Likewise some may previously have familiarized themselves with the vocals of Rumple through his own atmospheric black metal project, Desiderium, which I have also previously had the pleasure of reviewing.
Musically the debut album from Forestfather derives heavily from many established bands of the folky atmospheric black metal scene, while also borrowing a few elements from post-rock. The guitars consists mostly of melodic leads, often in a somewhat arpeggiated form, over a over layer of a more heavy and simplistic natur. Mentioning bands like Alcest, Woods of Ypres, Skagos or Agalloch seems almost redundant at this point, and unfortunately so does the music of Forestfather at times.
One of the most prominent differences between Forestfather and other bands in the scene is their frequent use of clean vocals. As much space as they take up in the sound image of Forestfather, it is also the one element that is the hardest to get accustomed to, and at the time of writing it is still the thing I feel most ambivalent about with Hereafter. The parts with Rumple's archtypal throaty, raw vocals are the parts I like the most, but these parts are at the same time also the most standardized, textbook portions. The clean vocals are what makes Forestfather stand out from the crowd, but I can't quite wrap my head around if that is in a good or bad way. It stands as a gleaming example that you shouldn't necessarily do something just because it's different as it won't always come out right. There are times on Hereafter where the clean vocals serve as a breath of fresh air in the stale atmosphere of a tried-through genre.
There's nothing to hold against the recording itself. The production is gritty and cold and feels sufficiently organic for the music to positively benefit from it. The drums could advantage from a little more humane and natural processing, but as they are now they stand as a strong rhythmic foundation to the music. The music rests in itself as a well-composed but highly derivative piece, and I mentioned that the clean vocals breathe a little life into the well done but to some extent contrived mixture, but this only takes the album so far. Forestfather does what it does adequately, but never surmounts to take the next step into becoming an amazing band. The band is definitely on to what their own style will sound like, but Hereafter hasn't convinced me that they've quite found it yet. 6/10 guitars.
1. Inner Ascension Those Years Passed
2. The Emerald Key
4. All Tears to Come
5. The Days Ever Done
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