The Fighting Man

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17/20
Band Name Forefather
Album Name The Fighting Man
Type Album
Erscheinungsdatum 2000
Musik GenrePagan Black
Mitglieder die dieses Album besitzen15

Tracklist

1. The Fighting Man
2. A New Dawn
3. Together They Stood
4. For These Shores
5. The Call to Arms
6. Out of Darkness
7. The Paths of Yesterdays
8. The Last Battle
9. When Our England Died


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Review @ zapateiro

13 April 2014

one of the best of the best in their genre

I'm half Newfie which essentially means I'm half English so I should probably feel some sort of connection to it in that sense but really the main reason Forefather keeps coming back is the oodles and oodles of great riffs. Perhaps a hidden influence on atmospheric UKBM like Fen, Wodensthrone and Winterfylleth, Forefather can switch between fast, energetic riffs with heaps of folk melody and pride on top and mid-tempo atmospheric black metal (perhaps the best kind of black metal) with clean vocals almost sounding chanted at times popping up frequently; not once do they ever sound out of place or thrown in to round out a song unnecessarily. A big part of the reason the songwriting of Forefather is so cohesive to begin with is because there are only two guys in the band- I happen to love bands with two dudes or less in them a lot of the time (Gris, Alcest, Summoning, Inquisition) because the conceptual nature of the album is usually a lot easier to understand and the ideas in the music are a lot more pure, unified and single-minded; metal suffers from having "too many cooks in the kitchen" when it comes to making music quite frequently. That doesn't make for a better meal; it just means that all the cooks will be bumping into each other and the guy working the fryers is going to find more opportunities to sneak out for smoke breaks.

The Fighting Man is Forefather's second offering after the energetic and interesting albeit somewhat amateurish debut that was Deep into Time, and it's nice to see that instead of selling themselves short with the first album and having nothing left for the next album they instead decided to refine the sound of the first album, exploring certain aspects of the sound a little more in depth this time around. The production has been improved remarkably in relation to the debut; Deep into Time was produced pretty thin, and that usually isn't something I mind but when you see how much better they made it here, it becomes a much more glaring flaw. The cleanliness of the production lets the national pride- which is a big, loud emotion- intrinsic to Forefather's sound be communicated much more effectively. The guitar tone actually has a fair bit of weight, the vocals don't sound like they were recorded on two separate mountains with somebody holding a mic across a gorge, and the drum machine is, as always, one of the most perfectly produced drum machines in metal there is; so simple yet such delicately crafted rhythm patterns serve as the backbone of the album, earning more points for how little they are noticed as opposed to how often. If you want to know how to program a drum machine the right way, ask Athelstan and Wulfstan before anyone else.

The cleaner approach made their decision to explore the midpaced, cavernous black metal side of their music on this album a much more resonant one. Songs like "For These Shores" and the great one-two punch of "Out of Darkness" and "The Paths to Yesterdays" are some fantastic numbers showcasing their midpaced moody black metal chops to the fullest extent and pretty much all the other tracks have smaller slow parts, something not as common in their other albums- there are usually at least a few blast-happy fast tracks on most of their album, but not here. Some of the midpaced sections build bigger and bigger as they go along to great success, like the increasing tension rising during the march into battle. Though this one of Forefather's much more black metal-focused albums most everything is dotted with that upward pagan inflection; the ride into battle may also come with heaps of confidence and courage. The focus on the slower groove does occasionally trip up the momentum of the album, but there are plenty of blastbeats and tremolos elsewhere on the album to get you back on track. The juxtaposition is very well done and because the riffs all fall into a similar paradigm the music has continuity despite the dramatic variances in speed. Wulfstan's vocals are great as always; his clean vocals booming, triumphant and with memorable vocal lines and his harsh vocals paying very close attention to rhyme, rhythm and meter.

The music is compositionally tight and very artistically focused, as is the draw with Forefather; you always know what you're going to get from them, but you're not quite sure how exactly they're going to serve it to you. If you ask most people, they would tell you that Forefather's best album is Steadfast, and I will wholeheartedly agree to that; it's also true that the general rule is as far as Forefather goes, the later the better, but this album is where a lot of crucial elements of their sound were established, and like any Forefather album it's essential listening with a lot of great moments that'll keep you coming back. Even the cliched moments (the beginning of "Call to Arms") work fairly well and don't make me cringe, which is a good sign I've bought into this enough to suspend my disbelief. You really can't go wrong with Forefather anywhere, honestly, but this would certainly be as good a starting point as any, especially if you thought the debut wasted a bit of potential like I did.

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