Druadan Forest - The Lost Dimension - (8.5/10)
Published on December 17, 2017
Originally formed in 1998 by Finnish multi-instrumentalist V-Khaoz, Druadan Forest released a trio of demos between 1998 and 1999. The project was then shelved for seventeen years, before being resurrected in 2016 when the project released the Paths of the Dead compilation in March, which featured all the tracks from the demos, followed by an EP, The End of Colours, which was released in May, and the project’s first full length, The Loremasters Time, in September of 2016. One year out from the first full length, Druadan Forest dropped a second full length album, The Lost Dimension, through Wolfspell Records.
Druadan Forest contributed a cover of Summoning’s “Beyond Bloodred Horizons” to the Wolfspell Records In Mordor Where the Shadows Are tribute album in 2016. Summoning is actually a really good point of reference to begin delving into Druadan Forest’s sound. Similarly influenced by the works of Tolkien (even the band’s name is a forest from Middle Earth where the wild men of the woods were from), the band’s music offers grandiose yet lush atmospheric soundscapes mixed with hypnotic black metal. Interestingly, The Lost Dimension, despite having more than a fair share of black metal passages, plays through like some form of whimsical, yet dark soundtrack. The arrangements are full bodied and sweeping, steering clear from typical keyboard noodling drivel in favor of what plays through like actual orchestra accouterments, though a few bits of what could pass as dungeon synth shine through. One of my favorite movements during album occurs during the lengthy “Beyond the Sun, Beyond the Moon”, when deep, resonant strings provide an emotive and robust backing.
The above description might make one assume that the black metal in the project’s sound is fleeting at best, but the ambient and atmospheric movements do give way to flourishes of tremolo riffing and harsh screams. The sweeping atmosphere seems to make the frigid climes into hypnotic black metal all the more rewarding when they are unleashed. The album is remarkably short for one in the style, clocking in well under forty minutes, which might keep the black metal from being truly mesmerizing and cathartic. That being said, the combination of treble-laden tremolo riffing and airy keyboard backing is a tried and true staple of atmospheric black metal that V-Khaoz has absolutely nailed, in what comes across as evocative and effortlessly classy music. There are even some really cool surprises during these moments, like the jaw harp during “The Shadowborn” or the previously mentioned string segments.
While it’s probably not the most sweeping or grandiose atmospheric black metal album ever produced, it’s pretty damn good for what it is. Classy orchestrations and hypnotic black metal combine in some bastard amalgamation of fantasy soundtrack and metal. It’s an album that should be listened to from start to finish. While the album’s short play time keeps The Lost Dimension from being a wholly immersive experience, I certainly found myself enjoying every second of the ride. V-Khaoz may have be involved with an armload of projects, but Druadan Forest is probably the classiest of the bunch.