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Review: Dark Forest - The Awakening
Dark Forest
The Awakening

Label: Cruz Del Sur Music
Year released: 2014
Duration: 53:38
Tracks: 9
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 3.75/5

Review online: April 29, 2014
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
The Awakening

Rated 3.6/5 (72%) (10 Votes)

Britain's Dark Forest sounded like a band on the verge of something big on their 2011 release Dawn of Infinity. That album was full of Iron Maiden-style guitar work and just lacked a few killer songs to push it over the top. In 2014, we get the band's third album, The Awakening, and Dark Forest remains right on the verge; the push hasn't happened yet.

The foundation of Dark Forest's sound is still based on Iron Maiden and, if anything, the twin guitars have gotten even better than on the last album. Songs like "Penda's Fen" and "The Last Season" bristle with harmonic riffing and the solos are perfect compliments. The songwriting is also improved and many of the songs, while not as lengthy, evoke some of the epic feel of "To Tame a Land" or "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Where Dark Forest is still missing the boat is in the vocal department. Dawn of Infinitiy vocalist Will Lowry-Scott and his decent, but ultimately ill-fitting mid-range, is gone and he has been replaced by Josh Winnard. On the surface, Winnard is sort of a John Arch sound alike, with a similar high-pitched warble, but without the power of the former Fates Warning front man. Winnard sounds weak and tentative and, at times, completely overwhelmed by his vocal lines. No amount of harmony vocals seems capable of beefing up his voice to point where it suits the music. As a result, much of The Awakening is thin and nowhere near as epic as it could have been.

The Awakening isn't awful by any stretch, but more powerful and charismatic singing are needed to complement the engaging songwriting. Maybe Winnard will grow into the role the Dark Forest songwriting demands or maybe the band will give someone else the microphone on the next album. Either way, until that happens, Dark Forest is good but not great.

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Review: Dark Forest (reviewed by Pagan Shadow)
Review: Dawn of Infinity (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Dawn of Infinity (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Oak, Ash & Thorn (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Oak, Ash & Thorn (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Awakening (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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