Released: 1999, Black Mark
They've returned! They've returned! After a too-long absence from the heavy metal battlefield, Daniel Brennare has returned to lead his band of melancholy bards back into action. And not a moment too soon, 'cause kiddies, THIS is how doom and gloom music should be played! Of course, there will always be those jacknutz that refuse to look past the death metal driven Greater Art as the band's crowning glory, but ye gods, have they actually heard Headstones and Crimson Cosmos? Sheer metallic beauty. But I digress…
Forever Autumn picks up where Crimson Cosmos left off, seeing the band progress (yes folks - progress) even farther away from their death roots and move into a much more ethereal, airy style. The overall pace of the album is slower, and the acoustic guitars and keyboards take a more central place in the bands tapestry of sound. Of course, this is fine with me, as Brennare is such a great songsmith that he just draws you into his fantasy world of sadness, death, love, and demons. Then there is his voice. Sure, his accent can be a little distracting at times, but Brennare has a deep, captivating timbre that demands that you sit with him around the fire and listen to him as he weaves his stories.
Thankfully, the band realizes that they need to mix up the pace of the album, and break out with "Pagan Wish", which serves as the attack number on the album, much like "Burn Fire Burn" did on Headstones. The rest of the tracks gently (O.K., not that gently) wash over you and pull you into the deep waters with them. As always, there are a few standouts: "The Homecoming" is a sweeping half-ballad that features a great keyboard accompaniment and the best L.O.T. guitar solo since "Headstones". The track also has possibly one the saddest choruses heard in 1999. The aforementioned "Pagan Wish" is a solid rocker that adrenalizes, while "So Fell Autumn Rain" and the title track lull one into a thrilling depression.
Despite the obvious brilliance in the writing of the album, it doesn't quite have the impact that came with Crimson Cosmos. All of the tools are in place, but for whatever reason it doesn't gel or flow as well as CC. Some of the songs are a little too paint-by-numbers and/or sad-because-I-can-be, and come off as contrived. Overall though, one can't help but love this album and this band. And fer chrissakes, let's see a frickin' tour this time!!! Let the forest close around you and surrender to the sweet exile of Lake Of Tears.