Musically scenic, despite the noticeable cloud cover
Ohio River Valley (U.S.) based outfit Forest of the Soul isn’t what you would call a well known act, despite having been around for seven years (on and off), and recording two releases (2004’s self-titled full-length effort and 2008’s Faun Song E.P.) within that time. But while Forest of the Soul is a bit of an unknown, the pair that make up the band’s line-up do have a bit of a history within the metal scene, with classical/jazz guitarist Aaron Carey the creative and musical mastermind behind the acoustic/darker toned folk outfit Nechochwen and vocalist/guitarist/bassist/drummer Andrew Della Cagna having been a session member for an endless list of bands, in addition to serving as a full member of acts such as Moonthrone, Wilderkin and Dofka. Outside individual projects, the pair has played side by side in Harvist and Angelrust – sharing the role of guitarist in Dethroned (although not at the same time).
Given the pair’s vast musical history together and my vague familiarity of their past musical projects (barring Forest of the Soul as both releases are quite obscure and hard to find), I really didn’t know what to expect from their latest release Restless in Flight, apart from the assumption that it would be primarily an acoustic effort, with some progressive/folk influences.
On the opening title track Restless in Flight, the pair showcase their strong song writing abilities with a mid-paced acoustic rock song that reveals itself to have many layers and some interesting twists throughout, and matched perfectly with some great vocals from Cagna (which at times reminds me of ex-Killswitch Engage/Seemless/Times of Grace vocalist Jesse Leach’s clean efforts), and some stunning guitar playing from Carey.
The two part Alone/Desert Rose is a definite stand out with Cagna putting in a powerful and emotive performance alongside Carey, who provides a suitably dramatic and atmospheric slower paced musical backdrop, while the rock based Without You, the beautifully crafted The Line (which brings to mind Opeth with some of the vocal melodies), the jam session sounding Daily Bread and the percussive heavy Evenfall are further highlights dotted throughout the album.
Outside of the vocal tracks, Carey gets to shine on instrumental tracks such as Auburn Hill, the mellow Forgotten Day, the country-tinged My Betrothed and the lively Summer Glades, before the duo pair up for the darker and more folk based Forest of the Soul to finish up the album.
Unfortunately, the album does falter at certain points, particularly when the pair opts for a style and direction that goes against the style found on most of the album. Examples of those odd departures can be found in the Irish jig/tune Green Heroes (which features a guest appearance from guitarist Mark Denmon), the electric Mother Tongue (featuring lead guitarist Pandel Collaros) and the country based Sweet and Lowdown (the latter two originally appeared on the Faun Song E.P.). While all three tracks are good songs, their inclusion doesn’t quite sit well with the mood and feel of the remainder of the album, which only gives the tail end of the album an inconsistency that mars an otherwise finely crafted effort.
Barring a few wayward sounding tracks, Restless in Flight is a fantastic acoustic based album that follows in the footsteps of Anathema, Opeth and Green Carnation’s acoustic efforts (although it doesn’t necessary sound like any one of them exclusively).
Forest of the Soul’s latest album is characterised by its stunning display of musicianship and quality song writing, and comes highly recommended.
(Man Made Music/Bindrune Recordings)