Woebegone Obscure

Album Title: 
The Forestroamer
Release Date: 
Friday, July 27, 2018
Review Type: 

I’d like to start with a sad announcement. No, wrong, I actually wish I did not need to announce this. But apparently Woebegone Obscured decided to split up last year. A moment of doom and woe. And damn, it does fit to their last effort, which was (and still is) called The Forestroamer.

This band started up earlier this century, and they did surprise the doomed audience with some great full length and mini albums. Especially their debut Deathstination (initially independently released, re-released in 2011 via I, Voidhanger Records) was received with open arms by undersigned, though all other recordings are much appreciated as well. But let’s not stick to the past and focus on the swan song of these Danish doomsters.

After a few-years hiatus, Danny Woe (drums, vocals, lyrics), Quentin Nicollet (guitars and bass) and Martin Jacobsen (guitars) did join forces for a last time under the Woebegone Obscured moniker, which eventually resulted in The Forestroamer. That album was recorded once more by Quentin at the Sol Ater Studio, while the mastering was done by no one else but Dan Swanö at his notorious Unisound Studio. Five pieces got gathered and eventually released on both compact disc and vinyl (and digital, of course) via the lovely and open-minded Aesthetic Death label from Worcester Sauce City, UK. The three-folded digipack edition, with extremely cool cover artwork (and the lyrics, in English or Danish), was printed in an edition of 500 copies, but apparently it has sold out in the mean-time. But you know, I will finish this review anyway, if only to show gratitude to this defunct band at the one hand, and at the other to beg you, Stu, for mercy for I did not finish and publish this review earlier…

First track is The Memory And The Thought (10:32), which is a very typifying piece, and at the same time the introduction for a ‘step-next level’. At the one hand, it does bring forth the tradition of old styled Doom Death Metal, with those characteristic guitar leads, that floating atmosphere, these thunderous drum patterns, ultimately deep grunts etc. The guitar leads are like the heart of the being, overwhelmingly backed up by a thunderous, cumbrous rhythm section. The song also comes with not that original ‘clean’ vocals (somewhat the ‘crooning’ way). But at the same time, there are some modernised elements too. Some bass riffs, for example, have something progressive. And the technical execution of several guitars leads is timeless, exceeding the limitations of the Old School. The whole song is slow, but still with a variation in between different tempos, including finely orchestrated tempo-changes and breaks.

Next up is Drømmefald, which is, with its length of 13:28, the longest composition on the album, and the sole one sung in the band’s mother tongue. It starts very ominous and gloomy, with eerie strings (guitars and bass) and haunting keyboards (performed by Kenneth Holme, who used to be in e.g. Dwell or The Vein), soon after followed by mesmerizing voices. But after a while, everything turns into a monumental experience, which exhales a suffocating and funereal breath. Like a lava flow, slow yet unstoppable, this composition progresses, combining traditional elements à la Evoken, Disembowelment or Thergothon, with subtle psychotic details reminiscent of Esoteric or Lysergene. Drømmefald might be one of the most impressive pieces by the band, with different excerpts which are cohesively glued yet also ingeniously interacting. Just a hint: that jazzy / proggy intermezzo after about seven + minutes. PS: ex-member Kasper guests as bass soloist.

Crimson Echoes is a short instrumental intermezzo (01:53). It’s like a semi-acoustic drone with an ethereal yet, at the same time, melancholic atmosphere. …and a perfect introduction for the track coming up next.

Crimson Echoes gets smoothly followed by the lengthy title track (12:34), which initially touches explorative spheres so much higher and floaty, before eventually focusing on the funereal and ‘orthodox’ Doom Death origins once again. Here too, influences from Disembowelment, Mournful Congregation or Evoken get translated into an own sound / approach / atmosphere, seeking balance in between sorrow and nostalgia, in between humility and hope (or is it hopelessness?). the female vocals, by the way, are performed by ex-Depressed Light / Shape Of Despair’s Natalie Koskinen.

The album closes with another somewhat shorter composition (04:32), Dormant In Black Woods,  which touches and caresses the most melancholic borders of Shoegaze / Progressive Doom. More than before, emotions carry the structure and melodies of this composition, accompanying the listener to the darkest corner of the Inner Self. Nothing but the dark to live for / dwell in the darkest woods / live on a thousand seasons / fear my black heart. Amen…

To end with: excellent sound quality (usurping and massive, with an excellent mix), unique and intriguing artwork (cover painting by Stargrave), and tears in my eyes for Woebegone Obscure are gone… I sort of sense how personal this album is supposed to be (or at least it touches me that way), and it expresses, I think, the woe of the mind(s) behind Woebegone Obscured. It’s a next level in the band’s history, and unfortunately the last one too…