As a style, second-wave black metal was practically perfected in its infancy during the 90s, which makes it all the more disappointing that so many of the musicians involved have said or done things which can be, to put it lightly, problematic to those of us on the left. So, for an EP to come along that comes close to matching the quality of those 90s records, whilst also being explicitly anti-fascist, is something worth paying attention to. That’s the case with Dead Forest by duo Seas of Winter. Dedicated to the memory of Pelle Ohlin (better known as Dead of Mayhem), the EP is rooted in the musical chaos of the early 90s Scandinavian scene; but rather than portraying a cartoonish vision of Satan or evil, Dead Forest concerns itself with anti-fascism and climate change.
As noteworthy as said lyrical themes are, they count for little if the music isn’t up to standard; but Dead Forest absolutely is. The riffs pull heavily from the expected sources – Immortal, Mayhem, Darkthrone et al. – and have that element of barely-controlled chaotic energy that so characterised the early records by those bands. Adding to this are the vocals of Espi Kvlt, whose proclamations seem to treat musical structure as a guide more than a rule; much like Dead would do. Wrapped up in a raw, DIY-production, it all adds up to make Dead Forest something anarchic, furious, and quite exciting.
Words: Stuart Wain