Australia has never really been the breeding grounds for great black metal. Sure, they have a few gems, such as blackened death sickos Portal and the one man atmospheric black metal outfit Drowning the Light, but overall, the country has a very low standing in terms of producing quality black metal. With no grim, frostbitten mountains and mystic, troll infested forests, one can't blame them for no being able to reach the same chilling atmosphere that is usually spawned from the Scandinavian/Eastern European scene. Of course there are always exceptions to the rules, and in this case, it is the 2007 formed ambient black metal band Midnight Odyssey, whose debut release Forest Mourners
not only perfectly replicates the cold atmosphere usually reserved for the bands up north, but perfect it.
It is sole member Dis Pater's use of the keyboard that really drives Forest Mourners
to be a standout record. Take, for instance the song "Journey Across The Stars"; the song starts with nothing more than a simple yet haunting acoustic guitar progression, backed by epic, and soothing atmospherics. Adding choral chants, the first experience with Dis Pater vocals is a pleasant one indeed as his layered, echoed vocals bring an almost folk influenced aspect to the music. As the sound of the keys begins to slowly dissipate, dissonant guitars make there entrance, and bringing a tone of anxiety, a drastic difference from the quite soothing tone that was presented before. As the song progresses, it switches in and out between the more depressing, anxiety filled atmosphere and back into the original acoustic introduction. The strength of the this song and the record overall, is the strength of the atmospherics and their ability to strike at your core, leaving you vulnerable to their many different tones.
Instead of a pristine, crystal clear production, Forest Mourners
opts for a more distorted, distant production. It's this kind of production that aids in putting the listener into an almost trance-like state. Take, for instance the instrumental track "Night Spirits" which is played on nothing more than a keyboard and once again incorporates folk overtones for a totally entrancing listen. "Spirit of the Winter Mountain" adds some great diversity to the set of songs, with serene Celtic inspired passages mixed with the traditional choral bellows of Viking Metal and some the dissonant guitars of black metal. Each song, while a melting pot of influences, remains cohesive due to Pater's ingenious use well thought out transitions, that simultaneously divide yet unite different sections of the songs.
Even if your time is precious Forest Mourners
is definitely an album that should be checked out. Far from typical, the album is literally a diverse and unique journey that cannot by found listening to other records. With an array of different influences, quality song-writing and a most fitting production, this album nears perfection. While Australia may not be known for much when it comes to black metal, one day, they will certainly be known for the grandeur of Midnight Odyssey.