Review - Forest of the Soul, Restless in Flight

We don't just review metal records here; we're open to all sorts of music. This record is a case in point. There is no metal here; not even a little.

Which is not really a surprise. Forest of the Soul features Andrew Della Cagna and Aaron Carey of fellow Bindrune band Nechochwen, which, you may or may not remember, released the album Azimuths to the Otherworld in 2010. That album, incidentally one of my favorite records of 2010, had quite a bit of metal on it, but that's not where Nechochwen's roots lie. Listen to the first Nechochwen album, Algonkian Mythos, and you will hear plain as day where those roots lie - in classical guitar playing, folk music, and above all, Appalachia.

Restless in Flight, Forest of the Soul's second full-length album, and their first for Bindrune, is a slice of Appalachia. It is, of course, characterized by some of the same things that make Nechochwen so mesmerizingly good, but this is by no means a Nechochwen album. Carey's incredible guitar work has to be the focal point of the music, as it is in Nechochwen, but these songs generally lack the often somber and solemn overtones of Nechochwen ("Alone/Desert Rose" and "My Betrothed" are notable exceptions). Indeed, this album is an Appalachian celebration, and from beginning to end, it flows like the white waters do through the glorious mountains of Appalachia. Having grown up in southern New York State, and having spent a good part of my youth in the Appalachians visiting family, I can certainly appreciate what has inspired these songs. While classical guitar is front and center, it touches on rock, folk, country, the blues, and a variety of other styles, but never loses that good ole' Appalachian spirit. The songs are catchy and often quite infectious - the album-opening "Restless in Flight," "Without You," and "Green Heroes" (a paean to Irish folk music) are all prime examples. Taken for what it is, it is a very good album.

This is where my problem lies, though - and I fully accept that it is entirely MY problem, so as to dissuade you from having the same issue.  When I first heard this record, I admit I was quite disappointed. I expected to hear something closer to Nechochwen, and when I didn't, I reacted poorly. Over time, though, I have learned that those expectations were totally unfair, and when I finally listened to the record with an open mind, I was delighted by what I heard. It's not nearly as intense as Azimuths to the Otherworld, and that turned me off at first, but I came to realize that it doesn't have to be. (If I hold every record I hear to that standard, I'll be disappointed quite a bit.) Because while it may not have the same intensity as Azimuths, it is clearly played with nothing but heart, and that can only be a good thing. It is without question an honest expression of various aspects of life in Appalachia, and a beautiful one at that. Listen to this for what it is - a Forest of the Soul album - and you'll likely be as enchanted as I am. Now is the time - this is a great midsummer record.

Also, keep in mind that this album is put out by Bindrune Recordings - a label with a proven track record of putting out absolutely nothing but fine music. Restless in Flight is available now as a lovely 6-panel digipack CD, for only $11 shipped in the US, or $13 shipped elsewhere in the world. Order it now (and for goodness sake, get the Nechochwen album if you haven't already), and keep your eyes on this label, for they have two releases coming up for preorder soon that will knock your socks off...

1 comment:

Raffles said...

Th guitar playing on this album is beautiful, but for me the whole thing is ruined by Della Cagna’s horrendous vocal croon. He sounds so much like James Hetfield I keep expecting him to burst into 'The Unforgiven' at any moment.