DARK FOREST

Heavy Metal • United Kingdom
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Dark Forest is a heavy/power metal band from the United Kingdom that was formed in 2002. After the demo release Succubus in 2004 and two 2007 EP's Phantoms of the Sea and Fear Dearg Dark Forest released their self-titled debut album in 2009.

Following the release of the album guitarist and lead vocalist Christian Horton dropped vocal duties and was replaced by Will Lowry-Scott as the band's singer, but remained with them as a guitar player. The band released the EP Defender with the new line-up.

The group's second album, Dawn of Infinity was released in 2011. Will Lowry-Scott left the band for personal reasons in 2012. He was replaced by Josh Winnard of the band Wytch Hazel.

- Biography by adg211288, August 2011
Thanks to adg211288 for the addition and tupan for the updates

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DARK FOREST Discography

DARK FOREST albums / top albums

DARK FOREST Dark Forest album cover 3.38 | 7 ratings
Dark Forest
Heavy Metal 2009
DARK FOREST Dawn of Infinity album cover 4.36 | 16 ratings
Dawn of Infinity
Heavy Metal 2011
DARK FOREST The Awakening album cover 4.00 | 8 ratings
The Awakening
Heavy Metal 2014
DARK FOREST Beyond the Veil album cover 4.50 | 6 ratings
Beyond the Veil
Heavy Metal 2016
DARK FOREST Oak, Ash & Thorn album cover 3.92 | 6 ratings
Oak, Ash & Thorn
Heavy Metal 2020

DARK FOREST EPs & splits

DARK FOREST Phantoms of the Sea album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Phantoms of the Sea
Heavy Metal 2007
DARK FOREST Fear Dearg album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fear Dearg
Heavy Metal 2007
DARK FOREST Defender album cover 4.17 | 3 ratings
Defender
Heavy Metal 2009

DARK FOREST live albums

DARK FOREST demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

DARK FOREST Succubus album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Succubus
Heavy Metal 2004

DARK FOREST re-issues & compilations

DARK FOREST singles (0)

DARK FOREST movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

DARK FOREST Reviews

DARK FOREST Dark Forest

Album · 2009 · Heavy Metal
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adg211288
Dark Forest (2009) is the self-titled debut album by UK heavy metal act Dark Forest. Although the band went on after this to be more familiar as a five piece act, this debut sees them as a four piece with the vocals performed by guitarist Christian Horton. This is a retrospective review written shortly after the release of the group's fifth album Oak, Ash & Thorn (2020).

The songs on Dark Forest number among the best that the band has ever put out. This is a quality heavy metal album with some power and folk references, that really channels the genre history in the UK, specifically the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. If it has been released at that time this debut record might have gone on to put Dark Forest on the same status level as Iron Maiden or Saxon. There's just one problem, which would have applied then just as much as when the album was actually released in 2009.

Christian Horton cannot sing.

This album unfortunately isn't one of those cases where a band had a singer less liked than their classic singer at the start of their career, but who was still pretty good. Horton is just plain poor as a vocalist. Credit where it is due, you can really tell he is trying his best to carry the album, to moderate success in spite of himself, but sadly he's just not cut out for it. It's no surprise that after this Dark Forest managed to recruit Will Lowry-Scott and then Josh Winnard (who remains their vocalist to this day) to take over this duty from Horton. I've seen some voice the opinion that someone, somewhere once told Horton he could sing and he believed it, but I find it more likely that he sang on Dark Forest out of necessity rather than hubris; a young band who couldn't find the right vocalist and wanted to get music out there. Of course, either theory is pure speculation unless Horton himself clears this bit of band history up, but regardless despite the issues regarding his vocals here, the band got it together in time for their next album Dawn of Infinity (2011) which as an aside, remains one of my personal favourite heavy metal releases of the decade just gone.

The album itself is actually quite good even with the vocals because as I stated earlier the songs themselves number among the best Dark Forest ever wrote. One of them, The Wizard of Alderley Edge, was actually re-recorded with Will Lowry-Scott as part of the Defender (2009) EP and alone shows what really might have been with this first album – possibly the best Dark Forest record. It's really surprising that the band has never re-recorded more tracks from it. Not least the self-titled song Dark Forest, which to me at least seems like it should have been a must. With the position of lead vocalist now seemingly stable with John Winnard, one can only hope that the band jumps on the golden opportunity to revive these tracks, if not completely re-record the whole album. If they did that I can't see any situation where the 3.5 star rating it currently gets from me wouldn't morph into a 5.0.

DARK FOREST Beyond the Veil

Album · 2016 · Heavy Metal
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adg211288
Traditional heavy metal. It's the genre where this music that we love all started and evolved from. Many bands still fly the flag for it no matter how many new genres and sub-genres emerge as the years go on (in recent years we're been introduced to the likes of djent and blackgaze). However I find that few of these bands manage to consistently produce work of the kind of quality that can really stand up to the masters from the seventies and eighties, particularly those from the United Kingdom, metal's birthplace. Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and of course my personal favourite, Iron Maiden. Most newer heavy metal bands don't come close to acts of that calibre and probably never will, though they may make one or two really good albums. But there are a few who are proving time and time again that they are an exception. Over the pond in the United States is A Sound of Thunder who have consistently proved themselves album after album, while MorningStarlett produced a belter of a debut that firmly set them on the path to do the same thing, if only they'd get around to following it up. And here in the UK we have Dark Forest, who may just be the best traditional metal band the UK has produced in years. Beyond the Veil (2016) is their fourth album.

For the first time featuring the exact same line-up as the group's previous album, that being The Awakening (2014), Beyond the Veil sees Dark Forest beating many of their previous milestones. It's both their longest release to date at about 73 minutes, and it also features their longest track in the form of the closing The Lore of the Land, taking up just over 14 of those minutes by itself. With any lengthy album there comes the chance that it may end up being too overblown and thus get boring, but there is a reason why I rate Dark Forest as high as I do (putting them on the same page as the likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest isn't done lightly): they are bloody good at what they do and like with Iron Maiden's later albums, the long running time isn't an issue on Beyond the Veil. Not in the least.

I got my first taste of Dark Forest's music with their second album Dawn of Infinity (2011). They'd been around a fair bit by that point, since 2002, and had released a demo and a couple of EP's in the lead up to the debut album Dark Forest (2009). Back then they were fronted by guitarist Christian Horton, who unfortunately clearly wasn't cut out for the frontman role and the decision to bring in a new singer, first Will Lowry-Scott and then current vocalist Josh Winnard, proved to be the best decision that Dark Forest ever made. But even back then in the early days, the band were proving themselves to be a force to be reckoned with. The weak vocals did drag it down but the self-titled debut was actually one hell of a strong heavy metal album. With the voice of either Will Lowry-Scott or Josh Winnard on it we may have even had a top tier release from Dark Forest back then, as the Will Lowry-Scott voiced re-recording of The Wizard of Alderley Edge from the Defender (2009) EP was quick to prove. Will Lowry-Scott ultimately didn't stick around, but with Josh Winnard now fronting them Dark Forest have possible found their classic line-up.

I did not find the previous album The Awakening to be quite the equal of Dawn of Infinity, but with Beyond the Veil Dark Forest's new line-up seems more settled and their game has been upped again. Like most of the best newer traditional heavy metal bands/albums, Dark Forest doesn't actually have a pure heavy metal sound and I think that may be what is required these days to really make the music stand out – not because playing straight traditional heavy metal with no frills attached is no good any more, but because it makes the music stand out more from the hordes of imitators. I've always felt that Dark Forest's music was heavily steeped in influences from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but they have other elements to their music that gives them balance and allows them to shine. Power metal most of all have played a large role in their sound and that's more true than ever on Beyond the Veil, but it's still just there for flavour and while there are times where it takes charge of a track, such as Autumn's Crown, there aren't any doubts where Dark Forest's loyalties lie. The band are also very clever with their melodies, which seem steeped in their native English culture and heritage, something which I worry that listeners from elsewhere may not pick up on. They even add a bit of actual folk to some tracks, including the Beyond the Veil title track.

Hitting on a good sound is only half the battle though. The other half and where Dark Forest really excel is delivering the songs to go with it and even on an album as long as this one they never once drop the ball. Particular standouts for me are the opening trio of On the Edge of Twilight, Where the Arrow Falls and Autumn's Crown and later there is also The Wild Hunt, Earthbound, Beyond the Veil and of course that closing epic, The Lore of the Land. The only track that does feel comparatively unnecessary is the instrumental Mên-an-Tol, which is the only instance where anything on Beyond the Veil feels overlong. Still it's not bad either.

This album doesn't quite manage to usurp Dawn of Infinity as my favourite album by Dark Forest, but it does come pretty close all told, which makes it another must buy release from them, further confirming my belief that these guys are the best UK traditional metal band of the last decade. Which of course is why its such a shame that it seems that these guys are getting so overlooked within the current metal scene. Maybe that's because many of the classic acts are still going strong and still putting out quality work like Iron Maiden's The Book of Souls (2015), but that's no reason to ignore the new blood who are standing up for the traditional heavy metal values. Come on people, it's time to wake up to how good Dark Forest is.

DARK FOREST The Awakening

Album · 2014 · Heavy Metal
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adg211288
The Awakening (2014) is the third full-length album by UK heavy metal act Dark Forest. It's been a few years now since this young band first wowed me with their previous album Dawn of Infinity (2011) and once again they've switched lead singers between albums, following the departure of Will Lowry-Scott in 2012. The new man behind the microphone is one Josh Winnard who until last year was also of the band Wytch Hazel. Patrick Jenkins has additionally replaced Jim Lees as one of the group's guitarists.

Musically The Awakening picks up from the same ideas that made Dawn of Infinity. Whereas the self-titled debut (2009) was a slightly more varied album in terms of the stylistic influences that could be heard Dawn of Infinity showed a markedly more focused sound of classic heavy metal with some nods towards power metal. Topped off with Lowry-Scott's much improved vocal performance compared to that of guitarist Christian Horton, who sang on the debut, it was almost like two different bands. The Awakening in comparison is the work of a band who sound like they discovered what they wanted to do on their last album and so have now produced more of the same, although a few more power metal passages have crept into their heavy metal sound this time, including the dominate power metal track, Rise Like Lions.

Josh Winnard's vocals are the most noticeable difference between The Awakening and Dawn of Infinity. His voice isn't as deep as Will Lowry-Scott's (a singer who at times reminded me of Blaze Bayley) and without intending to do him a disservice, he doesn't have such a distinctive tone as his predecessor. In Josh's defence he did have pretty big boots to fill and he carries The Awakening really well, so any lasting disappointments over Lowry-Scott's departure are short-lived as soon as the album's opening title track kicks off. More than anything his voice aides the whole retro sound that Dark Forest have always had going on; they sound like a NWoBHM throwback more than ever really.

The prior album was one of my top picks for 2011 though, as well as one of the best traditional heavy metal albums I've ever heard, so The Awakening always had a lot to live up to, even if Will Lowry-Scott had still been the singer. Honestly I don't think Dark Forest made it up to that level again with this one. They sound like they've given it a bloody good go, tracks such as Secret Commonwealth, Rise Like Lions, and Sons of England being particular favourites, but overall I can't shake the feeling that I wouldn't be totally wowed by The Awakening if Dark Forest hadn't already made a fan out of me with Dawn of Infinity. This is still a work of high quality material from one of the UK's most talented young acts.

DARK FOREST Dawn of Infinity

Album · 2011 · Heavy Metal
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Warthur
Dawn of Infinity by Dark Forest might not have the original sound ever - the band are going all-out to recapture the classic-era Iron Maiden sound - but as far as clone bands go, these guys are something special. Will Lowry-Scott's vocal performance displays an impressive command of more or less all of the techniques Bruce Dickinson showcased during the Number of the Beast-Peace of Mind-Powerslave era, whilst on the instrumental side of things Christian Horton and Jim Lees are able to pull off the twin lead guitar approach admirably. As far as the compositions go, I can't see them ever replacing my Iron Maiden favourites, but they manage to be sufficiently reminiscent of Maiden to scratch that itch whilst being distinct enough to be worth a listen in their own right.

DARK FOREST Dawn of Infinity

Album · 2011 · Heavy Metal
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Stephen
'Dawn of Infinity' should have made IRON MAIDEN proud. Imagine blistering melodic riffs, epic feel, pounding rhythm, sing-along hooks, every good thing you can find in most Maiden songs are here. But they're more than a shallow copycat even though it's hard to find anything original inside. DARK FOREST also was influenced by RAINBOW, JUDAS PRIEST, and DEEP PURPLE, and with those lethal combos employed, the band successfully provided a thrilling environment for heavy metal fans.

'Hourglass' started well, the huge riffs will swallow you right away and so did 'The Green Knight'. Much more melodic than the previous, this is my fave track although later on, you'll find a better track on the second half. 'Seize The Day' feels patriotic and 'The Tor' has that epic/colossal touch and it's no surprise, this song ended up as the longest track here.

The only thing that denied me from giving this a higher score is that I don't think Will Lowry-Scott's vocal is as strong as the rhythm section. 'Through A Glass Darkfly', in my opinion, is the best song they made here. Came up second are 'The Stars My Destination' and 'Black Delta'. On average, the second half is slightly better but the whole album is enjoyable and there are no useless fillers around, which is a great thing.

Fans of traditional heavy metal shouldn't pass this, a great indie record and I hope they get a better recognition. 80%

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