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Amateurs de froideur hivernale et nuits sans fin, convertis éternels au monde de BURZUM, DRUDKH et GRAVELAND je vous le dis : décrochez un peu votre regard de l'est où pointent les certes magnifiques fjords de Norvège et courent à perte de vue les plaines d'Ukraine et de Pologne car la nature comme le black metal ont bien d'autres lieux pour s'exprimer, et s'élever ! Et si l'on croit en cette logique qu'une nature merveilleuse inspire à d'hypnotiques et neurasthéniques mélodies alors tournez votre regard d'un 180°, traversez d'imaginaire l'Atlantique et une fois terre en vue perdez vous en ces fertiles et vallonnées forêts Québécoises où naît justement des richesses de ce sol une jeune scène black ponctuée de quelques promesses ! Et SOMBRES FORETS en est un bon exemple. Jeune o.m.b. en perdition dans la mélancolie, si le patronyme choisi est on ne peut plus cliché ainsi que la pochette de ce premier album, musicalement celui-ci s'affiche avec noblesse dans la continuité d'un BURZUM, d'un DRUDKH ou même d'un XASTHUR, où sans être forcément original perpétue avec sagesse et beauté la mélancolie qu'implique le reflet d'une toile hivernale. Ainsi apparaît ce "Quintessence" : à premier abord classique et misanthropique ! Mais qui à force de tourner finit par créer une réelle et hypnotique spirale mélancolique à la fois douce et amère étant mêlée de haine et de tristesse. Le chant écorché et perdu dans la brume en guise de guide c'est sur une embarcation construite de riffs lancinants, d'arpèges chiadés et de nappes de claviers perdues, et mené au pas d'une batterie essoufflée que doucement, lentement, votre regard s'égarera jusqu'à trouver la nymphe qui vous conduira au coeur de la forêt boréale. Prometteur...

SF a Canadian band is devoted to the freezing and misanthropic Black Metal that includes a touch of Funeral Doom. Those who crave for tortured vocals, haunting keyboard passages, sad and sometime ambient-like moments of bands like Burzum, Abyssic Hate and Xasthur will find their pleasure in SF, too. "Quintessence", their debut album could appease all fans of slow, depressive Black Metal. Especially the fifth song called "Automne" roused my interest the most. Following track "L'Abime" is a killer too. The album, that doesn't really sound different to the other Sepulchral Productions releases, is a very-well done one. Maybe the keyboards differ (compared to the Niflheim one) a bit as the one featured here is based more on some weird landscapes. Also some acoustic guitars do appear every now and then (could be more, as it is sounding well-done, too). The album has a playing-time of about 53 minutes, has a simple, primitive but effective cover-artwork and consists of 7 songs. I just could write the same about this band like I did with Niflheim. If you find yourself comfortable with that depressive kind of Black Metal you can check this release out – just take your time, sit back and… ah…read the Niflheim review.

It’s been a long time since Sepulchral Productions the record label of Frozen Shadows front man Myrkhaal released anything. With the label having been formed back in 1999 this release and three others released back on December 19th of last year are the first since the labels inaugural release with the Frozen Shadows album ‘Dans les Bras des Immortels’ in 1999. So, obviously the labels been stagnant for awhile, but if the three releases I recently received are any indication of what’s to come then I truly believe Sepulchral is destined to be one of the best underground black metal labels to look forward to.
As for this release from Sombres Forêts, the band was formed back in 2005 as the solo project of one Annatar from Quebec, Canada. Quickly he produced a demo in early 2006 and at the end of the year this debut album ‘Quintessence’ was released. Sombres Forêts music is a cunning mixture of raw black metal with depressive funeral doom characteristics. Probably the closest thing you could compare this to would be bands like Burzum, Nargaroth, Abyssic Hate, and Xasthur, though I believe Sombres Forêts stands there ground as a unique entity in the black metal underground.
When listening to this album the listener is driven downward in a misanthropic assault through slow creepy raw guitar riffs, poignant synths, and acoustic guitars as Annatar’s bloodcurdling cold screams guide you on a path through misanthropy and melancholy. As I listen to this album I can hear a soul that’s truly tortured by his own existence and one that longs for salvation from this wretched world and perhaps a cleansing of the human race. The album carries such a chilly hypnotic pace to it and with all the riffs sharing a rather dark character this really makes for some excellent music to listen to during the dark months of winter.

I am undeniably thoroughly overwhelmed by ‘Quintessence’ and look forward to future releases from this admirable newcomer.

January 26, 2007
9 of 10


How to spot one of the most influential bands within a specific genre? Well, I guess if more than 15 years after the release of the debut there are still groups taking the music of this band as a blueprint for their own debut. So, leaving any political discussion aside, the early BURZUM releases are still an inspiration for new bands, a recurring aspect in the musical development. SOMBRE FORETS present us their debut, featuring desperate, despondent, dark Black Metal. The atmosphere on „Quintessence“ is so intense and concentrated that the audience really is implicated, the atmosphere is taking in the listener in a way just a few bands manage to do, for example the above mentioned BURZUM. The tempo on this first release of SOMBRE FORETS is more slow, a few mid-paced, but no fast blasting parts. Main instruments are the classical metal-tools, namely guitar, bass and drums, some keyboard and acoustic elements are added, but very sparingly. The songs develop very slowly, and therefore the atmosphere is growing slowly, but constantly.  Since I guess only fans of the extreme metal genre are going to listen to this output, I suppose there is no one wondering about the desperate, sick and screaming vocals, they just fit perfectly, underlining the whole atmosphere. If there is a point to criticize, then it is the lack of any own ideas or inspiration. All on this release has been done before like BURZUM and few other bands. But there are really just a few other
bands which convince the listener by creating such a passionate and extreme atmosphere, and with „Quintessence“ SOMBRE FORTES did manage to be a part of this very exclusive circle.

Mirco Szymyslik

Sepulchral Productions is the label of Frozen Shadows frontman Myrkhaal, giving life to the finest black metal Quebec has to offer. There are three outstanding new releases available through Sepulchral at the moment, one of which is this debut instalment of cold, misanthropic blackness from Sombres Forêts. Comprising five lengthy odes bookended by serenading instrumentals, ‘Quintessence’ offers seven majestic slabs of freezing, soul-baring black metal and is music to the ears of those who subscribe to the lo-fi Xasthur modus operandi.

At once ambient and depressive, Annatar’s singular vision is enhanced by the subtle use of keys, which supplement the feeling of forlorn emptiness. Plaintiff heart-rendering vocals tap into the darkest corners of the psyche, while repetitive riffing – often slow and pensive – whips the listener into a state of abject misery.

To be fair, SF sounds more like a complete band than a traditional one-man entity. Excellently crafted and craftily executed, ‘Quintessence’ is a worthy tribute to one of the genre’s most essential cornerstones – Burzum. Critics of this kind of expression might be wise to remember that BM’s roots are entrenched in one-man expressions.

This is supremely frosty, gloriously gloomy and hauntingly sorrowful; crushing but with an underlying sense of contempt and naked disdain. A mocking malevolence permeates every brushstroke. You may never experience a more uplifting plunge to the deepest depths.