Review: Dark Forest – The Awakening (CD, 2014, Cruz Del Sur)

 The proud Englishmen of Dark Forest are back with their third album, and three is also the amount of vocalists that they've had on their albums. The new guy this time is none other than Josh Winnard, ex- Wytch Hazel. I must say that I wouldn't like to have been in his position before the recording of this album, since the vocal performance on their previous album Dawn Of Infinity, by Will Lowry-Scott, was as good as flawless. Pretty much in league with guys like Russ North on A Sultan's Ransom or Bruce Dickinson on Number Of The Beast. I also consider the rest of the Dawn Of Infinity just as fantastic as its vocals, I'd even like to call it a modern classic.

 So, in other words, following it up in a worthy way must be regarded as one of the most difficult tasks a band ever have had to face, but Dark Forest have gathered their forces and come up with the highly expected successor that is The Awakening. The biggest question is of course however they've found a vocalist that's able to fill the void that Lowry-Scott left because of his departure. Josh Winnard's voice may not be as powerful, but still he uses his more sort of calm and laid back voice in a remarkable way. It's definitely most clear in Turning The Tides, where his vocals takes over after an intro I'd almost consider as brutal, and sways away in an almost hypnotizing way. He has simply found his place, and managed to give the band a brand new expression, which was just what I hoped that he would do. It's not like they sounds totally different now though, actually I think it sounds quite a lot like their first album, just adding a more secure vocalist and a better production. I'm convinced that songs like The Wizard Of Alderley Edge would be taken to stunning heights played live by this line-up of the band.
 Musically then, the song writing is far away from a flaw in their otherwise great discography. The hit potential might not be as high in each and everyone of the songs as their earlier work, I must admit that I didn't felt as knocked out as I expected to feel when I heard the first samples. When the album is experienced in it's entirety though, it all unfolds, and the order is restored. I've got to have a few more rounds with it to decide whether it's as good as Dawn Of Infinity or not (or maybe even better?), but it keeps growing every time I listen to it. Dark Forest have surely set the bar very high for 2014-releases. 9/10 /H
PS: Could it might be possible that we've even heard the song of the year already? Judge yourselves:

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