Review: The Lord ‘Forest Nocturne’

Greg Anderson, a name you may know well, has been creating music since the late ‘80s first as a member of several straight-edge hardcore bands, then in mighty post-hardcore outfit Engine Kid and finally with doom metallers Goatsnake. For the past 20+ years he has been one half of Earth inspired drone legends Sunn O))) and has been running Southern Lord.

The Lord 'Forest Nocturne'

Latest project, The Lord, is a solo affair which was originally released as a special LP for Record Store Day back in April this year, but which is being made available in other LP formats, as well as digitally in the latter part of July. It should be noted that the album was preceded by two stand-alone singles performed with Robin Wattie (Big|Brave) and William Duvall (Alice In Chains/Neon Christ) respectively.

The standout cover art was done by Dan Seagrave, whose work you may recognise from numerous death metal albums by the likes of Entombed, Gorguts and Morbid Angel, with the promo-notes stating that it ‘seems to depict an ancient and unknowable force in the woodlands’. This ties into the album’s concept described in the aforementioned notes as ‘inspired by imagery conjured on daytime hikes, and majestic and beautiful trees’ and led to me going on an extended walk taking in the flora and fauna with the record providing a musical backdrop, as a way of getting into the correct mindset for writing this review.

Theme starts the album with a cyclical Middle Eastern style riff that contains shades of Die Kreuzen’s experimental sophomore release October File, this is a magnificent piece that continuously builds tension and leaves you thirsting for more. Church Of Herrmann is a nod to Bernard Herrmann which if you watched Anderson‘s Amoeba Records What’s In My Bag episode, has him waxing lyrical about the composer’s work, thus making this something of a touching tribute. The track is very grand, its classical inclinations melding brilliantly with Anderson‘s drone laden guitar.

The sense of creepy darkness it evokes sounds ideally suited to any number of John Carpenter films…

Lefthand Lullaby I leaves me wondering whether the title is a reference to the left-hand path that is affiliated with black magic/black shamanism. The sense of creepy darkness it evokes sounds ideally suited to any number of John Carpenter films, so what it lacks in heaviness it more than makes up for in atmospherics. Lefthand Lullaby II continues in a similar fashion, at least initially, before Anderson‘s thunderous guitar kicks in. I was also reminded of Sleep’s Dopesmoker, albeit with more of a cinematic edge ala The Omen and Psycho (the latter’s score was coincidentally recorded by Herrmann).

Forest Wake features police (?) sirens and ominous blackened riffing which taken in tandem, make for some truly sinister sounds that would prove threatening in both rural and urban environments. Deciduous is a track of dark ambient humming that recalls the work of Lustmord, and Old Growth continues in a similar vein with added distortion. These latter two numbers recalled for me Lustmord’s recent release The Others [Lustmord Deconstructed] which I was honoured to review for The Shaman. Concluding track Triumph Of The Oak features the vocals of Attila Csihar (Mayhem) and reminds one of his outstanding contributions to Black One, which seeing as that is my favourite Sunn O))) record is no bad thing!

You don’t need to be a hardened Sunn O))) fan to enjoy this album, but you will also almost certainly enjoy it if you are. For me both the cinematic and ambient qualities make it a far more immersive and engaging listening experience than any of Sunn O)))’s recent output.

Label: Southern Lord
Band Links: Bandcamp

Scribed by: Reza Mills