There was a moment in the early 2000s where black metal was shifting its paradigms a bit, a continental drift of sorts if you’ll permit me the metaphor. It wasn’t just watching bands take the Cradle of Filth/Dimmu Borgir route into more “mainstream” metal acceptance or heading into weird, industrial territory à la Kovenant or Dødheimsgard but also the underground receding into itself, fiercely standing on pitch-dark tradition. One of those practitioners were England’s Old Forest and their Into the Old Forest album, a record that felt like it had clawed its way out of the soil of a centuries old grave. Crepuscular, necrotic black metal in the style of the early second wave, Old Forest seemed to disappear as quickly as they emerged.
Years went by, with whispers and rumors there was more to come fading into the dusk. And then, in 2008, Old Forest reappeared with two EPs with more of a focus on English occult history which began their sonic journey into doomier, more (for lack of a better word) pagan influenced black metal. Owing perhaps to vocalist Kobold’s time fronting In the Woods… Old Forest took on more clean vocals and epicus doomicus metallicus to their sound, which on the surface was miles away from the style of Into the Old Forest but at their core retained the anti-commercial black metal they began with.
Old Forest have never strayed far from their roots, with the last few years seeing both reissues of their oldest material as well as re-recordings of Into the Old Forest and their second, long unreleased full length None More Black, as well as digitally releasing two demos of second-wave black metal covers (Emperor, Gehenna, etc.) creating a resurgence of interest in their origins.
Today we present to you “Master of Arachnids” from their forthcoming full length Sutwyke, nearly 70 minutes of occult English black metal based on the horror story “The Haunting of Toby Jugg” by Dennis Wheatley. This is a perfect introduction to Sutwyke that showcases Old Forest’s dedication to the second wave while expanding on their grave malevolence.
Sutwyke is easily the band’s best full length since their phantasmagoric re-materialization. Taking elements from all eras of their discography (including the clean vocals, though somewhat more subdued) this is also their most jet-black record showing that there is still plenty of (un)life in these bones.
Sutwyke will be released on CD/LP and Digital on March 31st through Soulseller Records. Preorder it here.