More than a decade ago, I came along a band formed by two brothers. Since my brother and I do somehow share a mutual passion for specific music(k)al trends too, I sort of felt a passion for these guys’ outlet. It started with Deep Into Time, the first album by Athelstan and Wulfstan. I’ve always considered my brother as a partner-in-black, and that’s why I do have a secret passion for outlets in brotherhood.
…quite a ‘big’ introduction, non-saying, for a review, but here it comes… I do follow Forefather for quite some time, and especially their Ours Is The Kingdom-album gets considered as a highlight by undersigned. But I have to be honest. I did truly adore that album a lot (and I am not exaggerating if I say that this album must be one of the best releases that very same era!), but it has not been the case all the time.
To be honest, I wasn’t that ‘fan-like’ before. Forefather released some albums before that were quite okay, yet lacking of the strength that eventually came along with Ours Is The Kingdom. The ‘problems’ with the former material… No, this review deals with a re-issue, so I’d like to start this review the virgin-like way.
Deep Into Time was originally released at the end of last century, and re-done on CD and vinyl a couple of times via e.g. Eisenwald Tonschmiede, Karmageddon Media or Irond a.o. At the end of 2014 the Dutch label Heidens Hart Records decided to have this material re-issued once again, including the bonus track that made it to the Eisenwald re-issue, being re-mixed for this release especially!
After quite an un-original intro (though, it surely sets the tone for what’s more to come; The Soil Bleeds Black-meet-whatever?), we’ll experience rather energetic, fast-paced and highly melodic Black Metal, based on harmonic riffs / leads, powerful rhythms, both grim screams and melodic voices / choirs, and all this drenched in a raspy and rusty yet highly-performant production. Great are the changes in tempo, but that’s not all. Actually, the interplay is sublime (of course, two brothers with a same-minded vision can create coherent structures), and that is a surplus.
There are many pros and cons. One can bleat about the predictive approach, the catchiness or the uninspired rhythm section, and one can prevail glory about persuasion, conviction, craftsmanship. I do not think it does matter. You need to experience this stuff yourself. Indeed, it’s quite catching and ‘easy-listening’ when talking about the initial and inherent approach. Is it a problem? That’s up to you. However, this is one of those releases that combines an open-minded, accessible approach with a certain distant, morbid outcome, but for sure this material opens the Epic / Viking / Folk Metal doors for those who are not necessarily trusted to this scene. It’s not to expressive or uncomfortable, yet not too cheaply open-armed either. The (rare) use of keyboards too is a surplus, for they are truly strengthening the atmosphere of, well, whatever…
So, in conclusion: Forefather knew how to build a bridge in between heaviness and catchiness more than a decade and a half ago, in order to create a next level of bathorian excellence (These Lands and ‘bathorian’, does it go well???). Once again, this album isn’t their most satisfying one (and once again once again: it isn’t but the personal opinion of undersigned!), but I think Deep Into Time must be considered as an elementary piece of the whole Viking-Black current.