Formed in the UK back in 1998, Old Forest produced one demo and one full-length before calling it quits in 2001. After a 7 year break, the band returned and became more productive than ever, leading up to Dagian, released digitally in December 2015, and now available on CD.
Dagian is a record with extremely big ambitions in terms of the sonic territory being covered; consisting of four songs, it clocks in at roughly 48 minutes. For those looking for quick blasts of metal fury, this record will probably try your patience, as Old Forest choose to weave tales of fantasy and paganism/heathenism. These things take a lot of time to talk about, people! A lot of sounds are covered in each track, so those with longer attention spans will have their patience rewarded. Elements of folk, power, death, progressive and, of course, black metal, are all mixed in throughout the length of each song, with each transition also changing the mood of each track, as can be heard on opening track “Morwen.”
“Tweoneleoht” has an extreme metal-meets-Pink Floyd vibe to it, thanks in particular to the keyboards, and medium pace at the beginning of the track. Dagian is often an extremely melodic record, and this track is a great example. The vocals go back and forth between a hoarse, black metal growl, and rich baritone-esque clean vocals, which can be heard at the beginning of “Non.” At times Old Forest remind me of the similarly pagan-themed band Drudkh, with a melodic-yet-raw-sounding record that incorporates other instruments into the mix. In combining the different sounds, though, Old Forest don’t always nail the transitions, as can be heard on the galloping riff toward the end of “Morwen,” which feels a bit tacked on. On that note, the vocals and keys at the beginning of “Non” come off as a bit 80’s goth rock-esque, which might be a bit off-putting for fans of extreme metal.
For the most part, Old Forest have crafted a pretty compelling piece of music in Dagian, but some of the experiments fall a little flat, and the track lengths might turn a few people off. Still, if you can keep an open mind, and have the patience, Dagian can prove to be a thoroughly rewarding listening experience.