As with 2017’s demo compilation Descend into Despair, Suicide Forest’s first full-length album sounds like what you would expect. The Arizona one-man project may be driven by the hypnotic tempos and repetitive strumming common in depressive black metal, but there’s more bite in the delivery than pitiful weepiness. The production has gotten a slight update from the demo days, but a more coherent mix thankfully doesn’t diminish the raw, bare bones approach.
Going along with that, the musicianship is well-rounded. The guitar tone is shrill and trebly while still allowing room for the very occasional bass highlight, the drums sound more natural and hit harder than on earlier recordings, the vocals are an exclusive high-pitched rasp, and subtle synths aid the atmosphere. The performances have an overall jack-of-all-trades vibe; there are a couple minor slip ups and it’s difficult to tell what Austin Kruger is “best” at, but he knows what he’s capable of and delivers on just about every front.
The songwriting is also strong, but I must admit the tracks all sound similar to one another. Aside from the three-minute piano balladry of “Baptized in Pools of Despondency,” nearly every song is a nine-minute dirge with similar ebbs and flows. Songs like “Kingdom of Solitude” and “Longing for Nothingness” are distinguished by their respective fast and slow tempos, but they often feel like movements of a greater whole than individual standouts. Thankfully a smooth flow works in the album’s favor and the extended Jim Jones sample that closes out “Cold. Dark. Comfort.” makes for a splendid culmination.
It wouldn’t be too off the mark to call Suicide Forest a “basic” black metal band. The setup is very simple, and their style is one that could hardly be called experimental, even if it isn’t as layered as most other DSBM groups. But it’s hard to complain when the formula is done this well. Seasoned black metal fans will know what to expect and judge accordingly, and it may not be a bad idea for less acquainted fans to give it a shot.
“Kingdom of Solitude”
“Longing for Nothingness”
“Cold. Dark. Comfort.”