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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

SAD - Misty Breath of Ancient Forests [Purity Through Fire - 2020]

Greek black metal band SAD were formed in 2005 in Athens, as the duo of Nadir( songwriting/ all instruments) and Ungod(vocals). The bands first release was the 2006 full-length album Total Nothingness. Throughout its history, the band has shown itself to be quite a productive project, releasing one demo, thirteen split albums, two EPs, two compilations and six full-length albums. In 2020, the German label Purity Through Fire released SAD's seventh full-length album Misty Breath of Ancient Forests. The album is available in CD, vinyl LP, and limited-edition A5 digipack formats.

The album cover is classic BM artwork. We see a graphic representation of the landscape - trees standing against the backdrop of mountains. The drawing is done in pencil or ink in a rather careless form,  more like a sketch than a finished work. The overall colour of the cover is purple, which reminds me a bit of Emperor's  In The Nightside Eclipse. In the corners of the cover are grey ornamental vignettes made in fantasy style. At the very bottom of the cover, between the lower vignettes, is the album's title written in Celtic script of the same grey colour. Above is the SAD logo, which is of a classic BM logo- the author's designer distorted font, combined with the silhouettes of mountains, branches and the moon. The central part of the logo is a stylized letter A, behind which there is something that looks like a wind rose or a Scandinavian compass. The logo is in the same grey colour as the previous elements. I think this cover is quite standard and banal, although it has its own atmosphere and is clearly associated with black metal. Honestly, I would like to see more depth and detail on the cover. After listening to the album, this cover seemed to be suitable, but maybe too simple.
 
The album consists of seven tracks of varying length and has a total running time of just over fifty-four minutes. This album is my first taste of the bands work, so I was slightly surprised by the name of the album and the look of the cover. For some time I’ll have to admit that I’ve not paid enough attention to up & coming Greek BM scene, focusing more on veteran bands. I always associated the Greek version of BM with something occult and philosophical, while on the cover and in the title of this album I found a typical Nordic style, widespread during the formation of Scandinavian BM. Playing the album, my feelings were confirmed. SAD introduces the listener to melodic black metal in the most classical sense. The music is almost entirely based on guitar tremolo, which leads to quite simple, but, to my ears, very interesting and beautiful melodies, with a slight touch of melancholy. In parts of songs that are perceived as verses, guitar tremolo lead melodic lines based on chords. Guitar solos are minimal or nonexistent. In principle, this approach to technical and compositional structure is common in BM. The overall tempo of the album I would define as quite fast with a lot of mid-tempo moments and quite rare slow inserts. The sound of the album seemed a little raw to me, but not enough to be chaotic. The sound is rather dense with strong stereo. All instruments are heard quite clearly, but, perhaps, except for the bass guitar, the sound of which seemed to be blurry. I would like to praise Nadir's work as a vocalist. I can't say that his vocals are somehow unique, it is quite typical black metal raucous screaming when it works in the general sound. However, in one of the compositions, Nadir's vocals sounded acapella at one point - it turned out to be a very textured and interesting voice, simultaneously working on several levels. Undoubtedly, the main character of the  album is the melodies that can be called catchy. I think we should express gratitude to Ungod for his excellent songwriting abilities.

It's always handy to have comparisons, so I'd say that Misty Breath of Ancient Forests is made in the best traditions of Scandinavian black metal of the 90s. It is a clear blend of the best Swedish and Norwegian styles. Very often there are associations with the most melodic compositions of the early Darkthrone and Burzum, as well as with some Swedish melodic bands such as Mork Gryning, but played with more density and variability.
 
Although Misty Breath of Ancient Forests is classic black metal, it's not just 'another one black metal album'. The music has great melodies, atmosphere and, to some extent, beauty, if one can say that about BM. This album is not black. It is rather dark, quite extreme, but not very evil and a bit melancholic. It’s not a masterpiece, but a memorable and very strong BM album.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Sergey Pakhomov
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