"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Spellforest - "As The Rainfall..." (Demo)

Spellforest - "As The Rainfall..." Demo cover image

"As The Rainfall..." track listing:

1. As The Rainfall (4:59)
2. Lost in Time (4:48)
3. Rain in Vain (5:46)

Reviewed by on November 4, 2008

"Even with the low production there are still plenty of aspects of the music that are able to shine through in refreshing and persuasive ways. "

Spellforest is a dangerous name to use for a metal band, as it gives certain preconceived notions that the music will be enchanting, all consuming, and if it’s black metal, wholly and utterly evil to the core. If the music is trite, overdone, or generic in any way then they relegate themselves to the abyss of the forgettable, but if it’s enthralling and sends shivers down the spine then they’ve lived up to their namesake and really added something to the scene. While it is hard to truly gauge a band’s entire feel and sound by three short songs on a demo, Spellforest do for the most part fulfill the expectations created by their title.

“As the Rainfall…” only has fifteen minutes spread across three tracks to hook someone in, so it gets started working its magic immediately. The first forty seconds of the title track act as a warm welcome, greeting the listener and welcoming them inside to the land created by the music, inviting them to peek around and find out if they like anything they see. It doesn’t get overly aggressive yet, attempting to straddle the line between melody and power before letting out the growls and heavier riffs. The more experimental parts show up quickly to distinguish their sound from all the other bands out there with similar ideas, giving the full force of the sales pitch and encouraging continued listening.

Spellforest as a band is now defunct, but most of the members have moved on to form another band called Sea of Nectar. The biggest complaint with Sea of Nectar’s debut release was that they sounded too much like they were trying to emulate several other bands, most notably Opeth. Oddly, this earlier band actually crafts their music in a more original way, allowing echoes of their influences to be clearly heard but never letting them take over the sound. There are clear undertones of black metal masters like Emperor and Enslaved, along with some of the more out there bands like Ulver, but Spellforest always manage to put their own spin on the styling and keep the sound fresh.

There is some welcome variation between the harsh screams during the songs, switching between something a little lower and more akin to death metal and the classic tortured scream that plenty of the underground originators utilized in their earlier days. There’s something exquisitely compelling and simultaneously acutely disturbing about hearing someone growl out their pain and terror like they are having their finger nails ripped out one by one. Much like the early days of black metal, the vocals are also generally kept lower in the mix and are rendered virtually unintelligible without a lyric insert.

Even with the low production there are still plenty of aspects of the music that are able to shine through in refreshing and persuasive ways. The bass guitar can be clearly hard on all three songs for starters, which automatically makes it an anomaly and worth hearing even if only for that novelty factor. There are also some sparsely placed keyboard effects that are used exactly when they should be and then shelved for the rest of the song.

The only real problems with the tracks are that they tend to get spastic because of their short run times. Each song is between four and six minutes in length, but they try to use just as many style changes as in any massively long ten minute prog song. The instrumental pieces in between the heavier parts are all well done, but there isn’t quite enough done with them to make them mesh into their surrounding environments perfectly. Longer run times would have actually served these tracks better than keeping them short.

It’s hard to recommend a three song demo by a band that is no longer active, but anyone wanting a primer to decide if they will like Sea of Nectar or just wants a new piece to add to their underground black metal collection should definitely check out Spellforest.

Highs: Cool tortured screams and lots of influences from some of the best bands in the genre

Lows: Too many ideas crammed into too short a time span

Bottom line: Worth a listen if you want more underground black metal with progressive and instrumental elements

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)