Another day, another atmospheric black metal demo uploaded to Bandcamp. With so many bands flooding the market all at once, it’s dangerously easy to start thinking of black metal releases as being a dime a dozen. If you have the patience and dedication to sort through the bunch, you’ll quickly realize that there’s no shortage of auditory diamonds hidden amongst the rough. It was the colourful artwork that made me initially notice Nature Resonates, the first demo by Foothill Roots, but it was the band’s excellent songwriting that had me hooked from the first listen.
Not much is known about Foothill Roots aside from the fact that they hail from Ireland, but I’m not going to rule out the possibility that this enigmatic individual (or group) is part of some sort of secretive forest-dwelling Celtic society, based on the content and the quality of their music. There’s a refreshing honest and genuineness woven into the music that makes Nature Resonates such a revitalizing listen. After the obligatory acoustic intro which features playful wind instruments dancing through traditional Celtic melodies, we’re tossed into the ambitiously lengthy “The Forest In Spring.” Ten minute tracks aren’t uncommon in atmospheric black metal, but for a hithero unknown band to attempt to pull one off on their debut is a risky move. Fortunately, Foothill Roots handle the affair with the deft hands of seasoned veterans, keeping the track moving and changing at an engaging pace, and not once do I find myself bored during its runtime.
This is partially because of the band’s skillful songwriting, and partially because they’re taking pages from well-worn playbooks. At various points on this demo I’m reminded vaguely of WInterfylleth, Saor and there’s even some faint traces of Autumn Aurora-era Drudkh. The band incorporate these influences into a sound all their own, and never venture into the territory of outright imitation. While there are certainly traces of all these bands on this demo, it never feels like I’m listening to one of their long-lost releases.
My biggest issue with Nature Resonates is its production. I feel as though the band were shooting for that stripped-down, lo-fi “organic” sound, but didn’t quite hit the mark. While the ambient nature sounds come through clear as crystal, the music feels thin and distant, and not in a mysterious “echo through the hills” type way. The greatest casualty of this production choice are the drums. They’re played just fine, but were unfortunately reduced to wet cardboard slaps in the studio. Though it’s important to remember that Nature Resonates is a demo release, and these things are not uncommon on demos. But when the music is this good I can’t help but wish I could hear it a little clearer.
All things considered, Nature Resonates accomplishes everything a demo should: it’s given me a clear idea of what kind of band Foothill Roots are, introduced me to their sound, as has me very interested in what the band will do next. With a better production job and a little time to mature their sound, Foothill Roots could very well release a smashingly good record next time around. I’ll be waiting eagerly in the wings for the day they do.
You can purchase Nature Resonates from Foothill Roots’ Bandcamp page.
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