|Title:||Forest Of Silence|
|Label:||Immortal Frost Productions|
We have already talked about Josh Young's mastery, thanks to Atra Vetosus. Three years and a half after the acoustic "Perdition", here he comes back with a huge album, definitely Black Metal, though very melodic. Proving his coherence once again, he is still the sole author, musician and producer behind this whole "Forest Of Silence", although there are some extras providing both second vocals here and there (among which there's Josh Gee, who plays with Young in Atra Vetosus) and the album's illustrations, handled by Brutal Disorder Logos, that dealt with his past publications.
Dealing with Astral Winter's third work, something meets the eyes: the huge contrast between a not-always-that-good production and the magnificent talent of Young as a composer and musician. Although in debt to the Scandinavian musical panorama for inspiration, especially the Swedish one (Dawn, Vinterland, Mörk Gryning, Noctes and so on), the Australian musician met this music in one way or another and metabolised it sunbathing in the New Continent, which allowed him to rework these ideas with great personality in order to create a good, well-refined and inspired album. The songs, as the ones from the bands named above, tend to last about ten minutes; nonetheless each one of them contains everything needed: spacious melodic moments, furious accelerations, a lot of keyboards acting as a trait d'union between the various elements, and — unexpectedly — some truly unforeseeable solos ("As I Embrace The Winter Winds"). Everything reminds the second half of the Nineties, yet being tasty.
Okay, we aren't really dealing with a masterpiece, since the sounds don't really much express the depth of the instruments, sometimes even smoothing over especially the guitars, unfairly; it's true, Astral Winter's trademark is keyboards, and sometimes there are riffs that should have been treated differently. In addition, the lack of a drummer hurts the most: the drum-machine in "Forest Of Silence" sounds too fake, and such a highly dramatic song as "Defenders Of The Astral Kingdom" is made lame by an artificial bpm that at times might even sound awful. That is a real, real shame because, despite its many flaws, this "Forest Of Silence" is definitely a great disc throughout its seventy minutes overall, and without them it could have been the illegitimate son of the unforgettable "Slaughtersun" or "Welcome My Last Chapter". A sadly missed occasion for a masterpiece.