The UK's Old Forest are back at it again, with another disc of symphonic and rather folky black metal. This would be their third full-length, showing that the steadfast ambitions of James “Mr. Fog” Fogarty (In The Woods..., Jaldaboath, Ewigkeit and several other awesome bands) still hold up just as well as always. Fogarty handles those crystalline synth nodes, as well as some static and other instances that stretch the work of Old Forest far beyond that of other bands. He also handles the vocals, which don't stray too far from the menacing scowl of which we'd expect, even though the cleans when used are quite pleasant. Beleth plays some rather melodic notes, which seem to bring Dagian an almost mesmerizing feel, compared to the darker atmospheres invoked by some of the band's previous records. With the enchanting folk melodies of “Non” and the whirlwinds of symphonic beauty that have been captured in “Tweoneleoht” there's no doubt in my mind that Dagian might be one of the most pleasant black metal records that you'll hear this year. While tremolos and icy cold riff structures still exist here, there's just so much more to be found within this record and I'd recommend it purely to someone who feels that they're tired of the same old thing when it comes to the black metal sound. While still raw, it feels organic even with the symphonic effects. This is the kind of record that really allows one to sit back and explore the atmosphere, see the worlds by which Fogarty has here imagined and put into song. The four tracks that makeup Dagian are very long, but you want them to be. I want them to be. What's the use in making such a mesmerizing atmospheric release if the songs are forgettable due to not being fully fleshed out? These tracks need time to breathe, and they are definitely given it. Now I know that atmospheric pieces like you'll find placed on the disc's final track “Neaht” might be a little too much for some, but if that's the case, then you're merely looking in the wrong category. I'd be a fool to say that this wasn't an experimental effort and a fool to stand against it. Dagian fully embraces black metal, viking/folk metal and atmospheric music all in the same less than an hour listen – and it does it seamlessly. I regret that I don't have enough time to explore this masterpiece as I would have liked, but you are free to do that when you pick up a copy, turn off the lights and drift off into another world entirely. There are other worlds beyond these, and I daresay that Dagian might just be the gateway to one of them.
(4 Tracks, 48:00)