11/07/2004: "New Reviews courtesy of Live4Metal.com"
A couple of noteworthy reviews at Live4Metal.com:
MYSTIC FOREST - Romances CD (BlackMetal.com/Cybertzara)
Review by MetalGeorge
I recently read an intriguing article with the mastermind of this French band, Stefan Kozak, in Metal Maniacs magazine. In said article, much praise was given for both this outfit, as well as his other, rawer project, entitled Eikenskaden. Comparisons to classic Ulver were made, which indeed caused my salivary glands to react at a near uncontrollable rate.
That said, I was both excited and worried to check this out when it arrived one day in the mail courtesy of my main man Scott. Would it be able to live up to the fantastic expectations that were running in my head of what it would sound like? Could it be true? IS Mystic Forest the next Ulver? Well...it's damn near close.
Yes, friends, "Romances" is probably one of the truest modern interpretations of the classic dark Black Metal styles impeccably performed by Ulver on their "Bergtatt" masterpiece. It is a highly melodic release, but unlike the modern definition of the term (i.e heavily reliant on keyboards to evoke atmosphere a la Dimmu or Cradle), Mystic Forest's idea of melody is to create it from the sheer emotional impact each song makes upon the listener.
It's the guitar work that is the star of the show here. On each of the album's 10 tracks, it is Msr. Kozak's highly impressive abilities which take the music to new and adventurous heights. Whether utilizing chords or fast picking, Kozak always manages to keep one guessing as to where he will go next. Most of all, it is in his impeccable and uncanny gift of lead guitar and note choice which truly make Mystic Forest an original entity.
In a genre where guitar solos are not usually the order of the day, Kozak makes them a vital part of each songs. Whether he is holding a single note, or running through a neo-classical scale, there is never a shortage of pure and unbridled emotion. "Romances" is an album of melancholic, sad, morose moods, with sections that rival classic Katatonia in greatness (see 3:30 in "Dans le couloir du Vice"). The man may not be a widely recognized name right now, but trust me, if enough people get a chance to listen to this, he will be one day be named alongside such players as Ihsahn, Jon Nodtveidt, Euronymous, and Blackheim in scope. Brave words? Sure, but trust me, Mr. Kozak can back it up. Give the man time to hone his raw talent even more, and I'm positive what I have said will come to pass.
While "Romances" plays akin to one continuous piece (each song is linked by bits of Chopin, Debussy, female vocals, and lightly pouring rain), songs like "Supplice Raffine" and the title track also sparkle on their own with greatness and originality. Mystic Forest is truly a band that must be heard to be believed. Sure, it's Black Metal (grim vocals courtesy of Baalberith), but it's so much more. I can only imagine what more we could have in store from these artists in the future. All I know is that I'll be waiting with baited breath for their next masterpiece. In the meantime, I plan on tracking down both previous Mystic Forest and Eikenskaden material ASAP.
"Romances" is a Black Metal album which must be heard and experienced by anyone who desires to hear the genre done justice in the year 2004. In an age where the feeling which once encapsulated an era is in danger of being lost forever, Mystic Forest is one act which is both preserving that feeling, as well as creating an entirely new extension of it for the new generation. A masterful release worthy of the highest praise.
- - - - - -
SYKDOM – Intet Liv CD (Black Metal.Com)
review by Pete.
When I first clapped eyes on the cover of this debut album by Sykdom I thought the old mischievous wood trolls had been causing chaos in the graphics department. “Surely this cannot be the work of a dyslexic designer”, I thought to myself. The band has to be called Skydom right? Well of course not, perhaps I should learn Norwegian as Sykdom means Disease in its native tongue and Intet Liv means Anti Life. For those of you thinking this is going to contain an unrelenting necro assault commanding the listener to kill themselves, well you have it all wrong (although there are fragments of it that trail down such cheery paths). Intet Liv is a debut that contains a huge variation in style and is full of moments of haunting beauty despite the fact that the band proudly declare their mission is to forge, “disease, pestilence and contagion; a virulent plague upon mankind..."
During the course of this 50-minute journey there are plenty of nods towards the conspirators of the 1st wave of Norwegian Black Metal and as Herr Sykdom (who appears to be the sole proprietor of this project) cranks up the armoury of opener Krig Og Sykdom, the first of these hits you squarely between the eyes. As the synthesized meander progresses with choral flourishes we are taken into a bouncy drum cavalcade, which is a pure homage to Mayhem’s Silvester Anfang. Tolling bells build up the atmosphere and we rage into a nihilistic vocal assault, screaming with hate filled abuse. Some interesting emphasis is put on the drumming in places, suddenly huge booms fly out of the speakers, way louder than anything else and drop on the listener like mortar shells.
Forgotten Tale is a complete change of direction and takes us on a Viking voyage with early Ulver folk orchestrations and huge Enslaved induced vocal croons. Jeg er Bare en Mann is in two parts and they couldn’t be more different. The first is a whirlwind of venomous howls with a raging instrumentation flying away behind it. The second is a beautiful piano sonata that really reminded me of the main theme from Nekromantik in places (or perhaps I just think about corpse sex a bit too much for comfort). You can forget the vocals for quite some time as Monotony is heavily reminiscent of Filosofem era Burzum and provides a dreamy melody that is totally involving. When the vocals do reappear on Infanticide I have to admit the throaty cackles remind me a hell of a lot of Maniac. Finishing with a cover of Black Wizard’s Winter Journey Sykdom have certainly accomplished an impressive first album of Norsk Svartmetall.
Hails, and THANKS to Pete Woods!