It’s a pleasant surprise to find Niclas Frohagen still working on his solo project Forest Of Shadows, ten years after his last appearance. In the last decade the Swedish musician had established himself in the melodic death doom scene with two excellent works such as Departure (2004) and Six Waves Of Woe (2008), after which he was lost, which is quite understandable for those who are burdened by other professional commitments and no longer have the time and maybe not even the inspiration needed to get back into the game, without even having the decisive push of other fellow adventurers. In this case, the time spent was useful for Niclas to assimilate new sound impulses that have emerged in recent years, to insert them appropriately within a sound structure that always looks at the more melodic side of doom but with strong post-rock drifts; what comes out is a magnificent album, able to grow at every step, and also sufficiently varied and incisive to withstand a duration that exceeds well over an hour. Among The Dormant Watchers is a work strongly steeped in melody, and perhaps to some it may appear too sugary at certain points, but the penetration capacity of each of these seven tracks remains very high. After all, Frohagen places the two most definable death doom tracks at the beginning and at the end of the work and, in fact, Self Inflicted Torment and Yours To Devour contain the roughest and at the same time slowest passages of the work, though without losing the usability that is manifested to a greater extent in tracks like Lost Within, Drowned By Guilt, We, The Shameless and Lullaby, where more rarefied and delicate moments alternate, recalling the Lake Of Tears of Forever Autumn, with others that are more than legitimate children of Katatonia of Discouraged Ones and Tonight’s Decision; to all this we have to add that post rock shoegaze component that, without ever emerging in a too marked way, constitutes an additional element capable of changing the melodic coordinates of the work. Personally, I think, however, that the Scandinavian musician has reached the peak of this album in Dogs of Chernobyl, a thirteen-minute journey in which all the stylistic nuances are conveyed in the work and inserted, in fact, in a rhythmic structure that refers to the two cited masterpieces of Katatonia, with the concession to a poignant central part in which they are admirably proposed solemn sounds typical of Eastern Europe, before flowing into a memorable and cadenced closure. Among The Dormant Watchers is the work of someone who, despite a career not too prolific, knows the material perfectly and is able to handle it to return a product that exudes depression and melancholy evoking a sense of inevitability rather than despair: an album that in this sense borders on perfection in its representation of the more autumnal side of existence.

2018 – Inverse Records