Released: 2013, Moribund Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Aokigahara Jukai is a name you will rarely find in metal, and yet is one of the most bleak and overbearing forests in existence. While many black metal bands are singing of Satan, war and some form of unending grimness they probably found down the road in the form of a dead pigeon, I haven’t yet come across a band that have tackled this forest as a topic until now. Located in Japan, the forest at the base of Mt. Fuji is almost devoid of life, containing very little wildlife, making it unnaturally silent. More importantly though, it is nicknamed the ‘suicide forest’ by some due to the high number of suicides that occur there each year. In short, it’s literally a forest of death. Topics really don’t get too much more brutal than that.
Forming in 2005, it too five years before THRALL released their first record, Away from the Haunts of Men. Returning in 2013 to release this, their third studio album, they are always proving to be one of Australia’s finest exports, following quickly int the heals of the likes of GOSPEL OF THE HORNS and DESTROYER 666.
The music is thick, sticky layers of cloistering distortion, which drones on minute after minute like crawling through the densest of bogs. The impenetrable suffocating sound is broken only by the agonized screams of vocalists Tom Void and Em Støy, whose voices struggle to be heard above the murk. This may be a wall of noise, but the layers are intricate, interweaving, connecting and then disconnecting almost as quickly as they had met and there is always more to be heard on the next listen. While many may describe it as straight black metal, Aokigahara Jukai is so much more than that. The bastard child of black, death doom and crust, even the most genre discerning ear is left trying to pick out where each section lies, but really what does that matter when music is this good?
From start to finish with this album I was left completely captivated, spellbound by the raw intensity Aokigahara Jukai. The black metal inspired ‘of Hate’ to the doom-laden ‘The Pact,’ there is not a moment it drops its standards of pure unadulterated smothering hate. It’s obvious everything about this album has been delivered with complete dedication and care, from the stunning album cover, to the final fading note, nothing has been forgotten, ignored or downplayed. The forest may be the end of the line for so many troubled souls, but let us hope its legacy is the just the beginning for this band.
Review by Caitlin Smith