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Dark Forest - "Aurora Borealis" (CD)

Dark Forest - "Aurora Borealis" CD cover image

"Aurora Borealis" track listing:

1. Aurora Borealis
2. Wind and Waves
3. Thurisaz
4. Under the Northern Fullmoon
5. Eternal Forest
6. Northstar
7. Journey to Ever Eternal Skies
8. Two Ravens Soaring
9. Warwinds (from Demo 2005)
10. Under the Northern Fullmoon (from Demo 2005)
11. Eternal Forest (from Demo 2005)
12. Among Silent Pine (from Demo 2005)

Reviewed by on July 22, 2010

"The ambient black metal is intense at parts and well-played, but becomes repetitive at about the middle of each track."

A one-man band is a difficult project to pull off, so David Parks of Dark Forest gets credit there. However “Aurora Borealis” isn’t the most impressive one-man effort, either. The ambient black metal is intense at parts and well-played, but becomes repetitive at about the middle of each track. Black metal traditionally changes tempo and melody many times throughout songs, which is the case here also, but not enough to make it exciting. The same melody, vocals, and rhythms play on for too long to be exciting and fall flat. The ambience is not mystical, magical, or even intriguing.

The drums by session drummer Griffen Kissack have a very good echo effect when he plays double-bass or rock format drums, but it doesn’t stand out as amazing. He relies quite a bit on marching rhythms like in “Northstar” and “Wind and Waves” that grow old. They are played slowly and mechanically, almost as if he is hesitant to hit the drums too hard. David’s vocals are good, but often too quiet. He can barely be heard at times among the music, which is not strong enough to stand on its own.

Guitar-wise, there is some trad black metal quick-strum, but there is more regular strumming of the melody, like an acoustic guitar for a ballad. There are some songs with acoustic guitar which sound great being strummed slowly, but the electric guitar should not be played that way so much. It just makes the music slow, without being heavy or dark, which is evident in the last half of “Under the Northern Fullmoon.”

Considering how difficult a one-man band can be, Dark Forest’s “Aurora Borealis” has a lot of music with some great ambient sections. But David Parks should have probably focused more attention on each individual instrument and worked on making it sound as good as possible before worrying about the album as a whole.

Highs: Lots of music on one album and it has good ambient moments.

Lows: Repetitive and not interesting most of the time.

Bottom line: Good ambient black metal, but not great.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

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)