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darkforest oakashthorn
Artist: Dark Forest
Title: Oak, Ash & Thorn
Genre: True Metal
Release Date: 24th April 2020
Label: Cruz Del Sur Music

Album Review

The third and last write-up of today is about a band I stumbled upon because a fellow scribe posted a somewhat cryptic post on Facebook that got me intrigued and curious. I discovered DARK FOREST and shortly after I had the files in my inbox (I had no clue as to the enchantment that awaited me). I will once again cite parts of the press text the nice folks of Cruz Del Sur provided me with:

“Venerable British true metallers return with nine songs of epic metal heroics and monumental storytelling! With their first studio offering in four years, DARK FOREST marries traditional metal glory with tales from the heart of England’s long and storied past. DARK FOREST founding member, guitarist and songwriter Christian Horton was halfway through the creation of the band’s fifth studio album when he came across a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s 1906 fantasy, Puck of Pook’s Hill. The book is a powerful depiction of England’s history, told through the lens of the people who have helped shape the country through the ages. The book’s crucial element of magic and folklore made an instant connection with Horton - DARK FOREST has long delved into such topics, and the leaves of the three sacred trees of England, ‘Oak, Ash & Thorn’, made it the ideal choice for the album’s title. The album, perhaps more so than any other DARK FOREST studio effort, properly expresses the band’s deep connection to the past, as well as the theme of the perpetual outsider, reflecting the course the band has charted since their 2002 formation. Recorded.”

Most of the time I am not sentimental when it comes to reviewing music but this record is a love at first listening session. Aside from being a very talented bunch of musicians who easily transport fairy-tales completely without hokeyness while pulling all the relevant heartstrings to make you completely fall for their compositions, they also have an outstanding vocalist. Josh Winnard sounds a lot like Bruce Dickinson most of the time (in phrasing, intonation and accent) but he has moments when his voice is not only all him but also something I never heard before (the best of Geddy lee and Dickinson in one voice). Drummer Adam Sidaway is a fucking beast, able to steer the ship with his rhythms but also a wild devil that sometimes beats the living hell out of the kit with double-bass attacks that normally should never fit into the overall sound (but they do). Horton and Jenkins on guitar are an excellent pairing as they are complementing each other’s skills over the entire musical experience. This album has to be heard in one session as it is impossible to point out just one or two highlights. OK the title song is pretty great but so is ‘Heart Of The Rose’ and ‘Relics’... Just buy the damn thing already!


01. Ælfscýne
02. Wayfarer's Eve
03. The Midnight Folk
04. Relics
05. Avalon Rising
06. Oak, Ash & Thorn
07. The Woodlander
08. Eadric’s Return
09. Heart of the Rose


Christian Horton – Guitar
Josh Winnard – Vocals
Pat Jenkins – Guitar
Adam Sidaway – Drums


Cover Picture

darkforest oakashthorn


Music: 10
Sound: 10
Total: 10 / 10

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