There is nothing like an epic slab of pagan metal to get the blood pumping around the veins and juices flowing, something the new album from UK metalers Forefather does with ease. A fully rampant and magnetic release, Last Of The Line is the sixth album from the band and sees them return with broader inventive melodic strokes within even fuller stirring and insatiable atmospheres than ever before. An album to draw out the warrior within and trigger tribal urges, Last Of The Line leads one through soundscapes borne of battlefields and uncomplicated yet dangerous times. It is a glorious release which satisfies on every level.
Formed in 1997 Forefather is the creative union of brothers Athelstan and Wulfstan, the Surrey pair taking their source and inspiration from the Anglo-Saxon roots of their homeland. Musically the band creates an irresistible weave of folk and pagan metal veined with gothic signatures and ancient anthemic energies which finds them crossing genres through the crusading and historic marches masquerading as mere songs. 1997 saw their self released debut album Deep Into Time followed three years later by The Fighting Man. With each release the band has earned a deserved reputation and acclaim especially within folk and pagan metal spheres, something which third album Engla Tocyme only reinforced. In 2003 Forefather signed with Karmageddon Media for the release of fourth album Ours is the Kingdom a year later as well as the re-release of their first three full lengths. Highly regarded the band went from strength to strength through varied compilation appearances and after a delay their fifth album Steadfast emerged in 2008, again a self released on their new label Seven Kingdoms.
Last Of The Line again released on Seven Kingdoms at the end of last year, is now given a digital release through Metalhit.com and again reminds the Scandinavians and pagan metal bands everywhere that the UK has one of the best within its shores. The album opens up the ears and heart with Cometh The King, a short intro/instrumental heralding the impending majesty and epic tale of the album ready to surge through the countryside of the senses. It leads straight into the title track and instantly one is immersed within the expansive ancient atmosphere and heart driven epic intensity. The song gallops the fields of pleasure like a messenger at full pelt on his muscular steed, its grace and compulsive breath impossibly infectious and incendiary upon the emotions.
From arguably the best song on the album next tracks in the equally eager Chorus Of Steel and By They Deeds light up the air. The first is an insatiable feast of hypnotic riffs and heart thumping rhythms blistered with acidic melodic guitar play and testing atmosphere. Vocally the delivery is primarily harsh which personally does not quite live up to the tracks where the band brings their fully impressive clean vocals through. This has always been the case and always will for these ears, their anthemic sky reaching melodic harmonies far more effective than the aggressive guttural venom. That said the band as proven in the brilliant By Thy Deeds generally find the perfect mix. Another song to challenge for top honours it is aural contagion from the mesmeric atmosphere, triumphant vocals, and the imaginative guitar manipulation.
As the album tours its landscape and emotive tales, songs like Up High with its mesmeric beauty, the raging juggernaut Wolves Of Prayer, and the continually evolving Doomsday Dawns, exhilarate and engage in their individual armour and faces. They are eclipsed though by the excellent Shadows Of The Dead, a song one can only describe as Billy Idol meets Ensiferum on the set of fifties TV show Robin Hood. The track opens with a melodic infection which reminds of the main hook in the song White Wedding before digging into its shadows and aggressive depths to rile up the senses. As the song takes a breath between the intense and malevolent passages it comes straight for the heart with a melodic infection as irresistible and surging as the theme music to the aforementioned show.
As a whole Last Of The Line is outstanding, every song adding its weight towards the ignition of the passions for a reward which pagan/folk metal fans will fall for.
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