Released: 2014, Cruz Del Sur Music
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
The Awakening is the third full length album by U.K. Heavy Metal band DARK FOREST, the first to feature vocalist Josh Winnard and guitarist Pat Jenkins. The sound of the band has taken a few steps forward as a result of these two additions, though the band's roots still lay in classic Heavy Metal driven by dual guitar melodies. Compared to their previous releases, DARK FOREST sound gets a boost on this album, thanks to a crisp, clear production job that makes the band sound massive. In many ways, the record sounds like a marriage between the traditional musical tendencies of NWOBHM bands and modern sensibilities. The band has their technical moments, yet remain rooted in the classic sound of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Satan, and Angel Witch. The band's sound on this record can also be attributed to the fact that DARK FOREST decided to tune the instruments to 444hz instead of the standardized 440hz tuning, following research done on the "Solfeggio frequencies" by the members of the band.
The title track opens the album, and surprisingly, it is a laid back Progressive Rock-tinged number which may remind listeners of recent IRON MAIDEN records. The guitar melodies have folk music influence on this track, as well as the vocals. On par with this track is "Immortal Remains", in which Folk Music influences are evident as well. Other songs like "Sacred Signs", "Rise Like Lions" and "Sons of England" include more aggressive stylings, with double bass drum work and faster tempos. The band never lets up on the melodies, though: the guitarists are constantly playing off each other, and the vocals remain cathy throughout the album. Some songs like "Turning of the Tides", "Secret Commonwealth" and "The Last Season" will no doubt remind listeners of HELLOWEEN and IRON MAIDEN.
While a vast improvement over DARK FOREST's previous releases, there is no question that listeners may feel a sense of Deja vu while listening to "The Awakening". I personally believe that the band hits its stride whenever they decide to dabble in Progressive Rock and Folk Music, which mixed with their melodic approach to Heavy Metal, makes for some very insteresting moments during the album. The new members definitely bring in a lot of positive elements to the band, and there was improvement in many areas of the music. As it is, "The Awakening" is a step forward in the right direction for the band, and a record that is definitely enjoyable.