Review Summary: A Dawn Uplifting…
Often, black metal’s target audience pertains to the darker moods and emotions found within the human’s capacity to know such things. Sure, that’s vague… but hear me out. The contextual merits of hate, anguish, loss and despair that come with death or loss seem almost inescapable to most black metal artists, but Skyforest’s A New Dawn
seems to stand against the usual stereotypes raised above. A New Dawn
is a brightly coloured atmospheric black metal effort that does well to represent both the art on its cover and the very aesthetic that makes it (and other albums like it) viable moving well past 2020. Skyforest’s third studio full-length is awash with positivity and grace, moving from one soundscape of beautifully composed atmospheres to another of primal, yet completely “grand” black metal stereotypes. Skyforest’s newest offering is a fresh, uplifting face in a genre of normally darkened atmospheres. If (like me), you’ve been captivated by the last albums from Falls Of Rauros, Saor or Winterfylleth of last decade, Skyforest continue in the same vein without plagiarising these more prominent acts within the field.
It’s hard not to be swept up in the sonic landscape of “Along The Waves”. Tumultuous blast beats and ravaging tremolo meet a whirlwind of major notes in an atmospheric crescendo that’s as colourful as the artwork that represents Skyforest’s third full-length - and yet, A New Dawn
defines a growing experience regardless of the listeners views on the sunswept musical hills that this particular black metal band’s warm motifs leaves. Somehow, A New Dawn
is one of the decade’s more promising, hopeful and elevating efforts .The more cinematic tropes of “Along The Waves” may leave some listeners dissociated from the more current atmospheric black metal scene, but the track’s (and much of what follows) clearly tilted positivity is something not usually seen throughout (and clearly less orthodox) an industry of corpse paint and bands found “lost” in pine forests. Factually, Skyforest’s 2020 sound is vast and tinged with progressive moments, similar to Borknagar’s 2019 masterstroke True North
. The likes of “The Night Is No More” builds in moments that hint at nuanced melancholy. Ringing notes dance in front of the lighter compositions, before being coupled with some varying black metal vocals that range from folk-laced croons, shrieks and whispers, as well as the genre’s typical penchant for tearing screams. Each vocal component adds to the album’s depth without slamming the listener with scream after scream. The melody found throughout A New Dawn
’s bigger aesthetic picture is clearly the focus; something that benefits both the band and listener alike.
It could be said that Skyforest stick themselves to an idea of inspired, lightened gazey black metal - but that is exactly where the album both grows and stays with the listener. A New Dawn
is less about the screams, blast beats and tremolo notes and more about drawing whoever is willing to take that fresh look into a scene of lush greens and yellows. While not completely original, the album moves into a dual clean male/female harmony within “The Night Is No More”. It’s refreshing, even as the track’s tasteful guitar solo cuts through the mix. Skyforest’s newest effort appeals to the black metal fan tired of the usual dreary stereotypes and offers something fresh in its place.
Despite the promise shown by the record as a whole, some moments blend into each other - crying out for a need to shift the atmosphere into the stereotypical darkness… if only for a moment. “Rebirth” is likewise enchanting in its composition, but is drawn back by the atmosphere that comes before it. These hiccups however are outweighed by A New Dawn
’s ability to grow with the listener after multiple listens. The sum of all Skyforest’s parts may put their third studio effort in the realms of cheese-y black metal atmospherics that clings to stereotypes, but by grabbing hold of some more positive soundscapes (and the major scales that normally go with them), A New Dawn
is an exciting grower when compared to the more contemporary acts, and largely innovative in the face of black metal angst because of that simple characteristic. Largely, there’s something to take away from this newest offering, a new dawn is coming.