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Ophidian Forest: Redbad

Redbad is the collective work of three musicians: Amalgamoth (lyrics, vocals and keyboards), Otrebor (drums) and Zaragil (guitars & bass). These guys have never met or even talked on the phone before. Besides, they live in different countries (US, Croatia and The Netherlands).

Normally, pagan metal ranks right into my favorites type of metal. Upon listening to Redbad though, I realized there were some exceptions to the rule. Mind you, the sleeve mentioned: "66:06 minutes of bestial pagan chaos". The first four tracks are actually kind of painful. You can hear lots of distortion in a chaotic environment. This is where I started paying attention to the drumming, being the only decipherable parts, as well as a bit of bass lines , and I am a guitar player see…Then, in the middle of all this, came a series of compositions that saved the situation somewhat. They are tracks #5 to 7, namely "The Poisoning", "Pagan Pride in Hell" and "Talisman of Fate". Those are nothing too fancy as such, just more refined in sound and more melodic. The first one is a mid tempo crusher with nice distorted arpeggios and it is an instrumental piece. This is followed by a track that threw me off when I heard clean epic vocals and melodic keyboards, both accompanied by the heavy guitar work. The last one also bears its melodic moments and contains calmer times. As for the remaining songs on this album, they come with strange sounds & patterns and the usual chaotic / distorted climate, although being more enjoyable than the first tracks.

Ophidian Forest's Redbad is primarily a raw, distorted and chaotic release, but it has also some harmonies and melodic moments. Listening before buying is suggested.


Track listing:
1 – A Herald on Silver Wings
2 – Savage Day Rising
3 – Shamanic Visions
4 – The Ophidian Amulet
5 – The Poisoning
6 – Pagan Pride in Hell
7 – Talisman of Fate
8 – Thor Rides Over Dokkum
9 – The Desecration of Fositeland

Added: May 10th 2010
Reviewer: Denis Brunelle
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1565
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Ophidian Forest: Redbad
Posted by Zaragil on 2010-05-14 12:15:32
My Score:

Obviously our CD ended up in the wrong hands and I will not comment on the review itself, the man obviously had no idea about what was going on and wrote the review quickly, just to get it over with. Just a couple of remarks:

1. I am not Dutch, Otrebor is not a Croat and Amalgamoth is not an American.

2. "Pagan metal" doesn't exist as a "type of metal" - Paganism is a worldview, a philosophy and, to some, a religion. If he was referring to what some Americans confuse with "folk metal" then he could have said so, instead of inventing terms. And no, we are not "folk metal" either - my goal is not to show Christians how Paganism can be fun (happy, drinking songs) but to show them (and other kinds of monotheists) the way out from this planet.

Thank you,

Zaragil

Ophidian Forest: Redbad
Posted by on 2010-05-13 19:05:05
My Score:

Of course, some other reviewers didn't think this way. So, to set the record straight:

AQUARIUS REVIEW:

Sometimes you can tell what you're gonna get just by an album cover. Rarely is that more true than with metal records, and the stern looking bearded dude with the winged helmet on the cover of I: Redbad is a pretty good indication of what lies inside - furious, overblown pagan black metal that buzzes and rages like a fucking war. Ophidian Forest is a trio with members stationed in the Netherlands, Croatia, and right here in San Francisco - imagine that. They conceive their music through file swapping online, and the liner notes explain that the three band members have never communicated through phone and wouldn't even recognize each other in person. So how are the results so amazing? Dark forces are surely at work with this one, not only is the music way more "natural" (not to mention totally awesome) than you might expect from such a lack of formal communication, but it may even work in the group's favor; with nothing to focus on except the creation of thrashing metallic glory with an extra heaping of mythological nihilism, the project has taken on a greater meaning than if it would have been defined in the traditional sense of what a band should be. Obviously these three are connected on some higher plane in the realm of black metal, because I: Redbad is a perfectly realized vision, a take no prisoners onslaught of filth and transcendental power. It's also a well thought out concept record focusing on the life and times of the Frisian King Redbad (c. 680-719), who in true metal fashion resisted the Christian onslaught of the Merovingian dynasty while maintaining the pagan ways of his people, who lived near the North Sea extending along the borders of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. But this is hardly just for you history buffs out there. The guitars remain firmly in the red, the drums keep things blasting relentlessly, and the atmospheric keyboards add a nice touch of otherworldly ambience. And then of course, you get the singer's hateful, distorted screeches, adding a nice witchy element to the affair. Things are as filthy as you could hope for in a metal band, but the songs are also so punky and catchy that you might be surprised to find these sticking in your head for quite some time. To top things off, the band members all look like nefarious forest dwelling wizards, which certainly adds to the mystical vibe they have effortlessly obtained. One can only hope these guys keep up with the collaborations, because this stuff definitely covers everything we love about our black metal.


HIEROPHANT NOX REVIEW:

It's common to refer to creative partnerships as 'a meeting of minds', but never was that more true than of Ophidian Forest, a trio of musicians who span the reach of two continents and collaborate by exchanging files in the post and via the net. Although this sounds like it could be the recipe for a disaster, it seems that Amalgamoth, Otrebor and Zaragil have an uncanny unity of vision, for it surely takes some shared kind of ferocious madness to produce the chaotic and dirty yet oddly rousing pagan sound that comprises their 2007 debut "Redbad".

Ophidian Forest's music has a excellent depth, put in place by a grim bass guitar that, on tracks such as "Savage Day Rising", doesn't even particularly want to work in tandem with its fellow instruments, instead inhabiting a nasty, adversarial position contributing to the churning gutsiness of the album as a whole. Another aspect that seems completely hateful and unyielding is Amalgamoth's vocal performance, an incredibly harsh, rasping screech for the main part, breath-taking when it first kicks in on the uncanny blizzard of "Herald on Silver Wings". There's another style, too, a cleaner, more epic, ritualistic tone that makes "Pagan Pride in Hell" such a meditative, imposing track.

For all the spite and confrontation, though, there are mean and lively elements that generally hold the whole onslaught together, most notably the suitable yet loose percussion, and the weaving of catchy rhythms between the grander aspects such as the disturbing and oppressive but melodic keyboard movements. A track like "Talisman of Fate" uses these firm songwriting anchors to spin mid-paced riffs around with a good degree of style. The evocation of 'dark medieval times' is played out through aggression, bleakness, savagery and just a little touch of mystery, evident in the opening of "Shamanic Visions", and in the drama of "Pagan Pride". The absence of any cheesy elements, and the interesting figure who forms the concept for the album as a whole, makes this a very pleasing interpretation of heritage.

In all, despite the roughness of the execution sometimes miring Ophidian Forest's ideas down a little, this is a full-blooded and committed effort that surpasses expectations that one might have of a release constructed in such a strung-out manner. The challenge from here is to progress this pleasingly odd and noisy sound over the course of future releases – seeing as how it would thoroughly satisfying to hear more mixing of pagan glory with pagan violence, it just remains to wish the band all the best with this endeavour.


MUSICAL WARFARE REVIEW:

Ophidian Forest's debut album Redbad comes across as unquestionably pagan, but manages to avoid the cliches and tactics employed by most bands playing this style. You won't find clean vocals, familiar folk melodies, unusual instruments or any kind of nature-inspired ambience on this album. Instead, Ophidian Forest spew forth black metal that is uncompromisingly primitive and deliciously creepy, creating a churning mass of blackness that evokes the dark and frightening reality of ancient times.

With members in Croatia, the Netherlands and San Francisco, CA, it's impressive that Ophidian Forest have managed to achieve such a cohesive vision for this album. Redbad seethes with a gritty, old-school black metal sound that harkens back to the days of Mayhem and Darkthrone, although one difference is that the potent, low-end throb of the bass is surprisingly evident, giving the band's sound some additional heaviness. What really got me hooked was the way the band uses keyboards. The keys take on a weird, eerie tone and will sometimes throw a twisted melody over the band's crushing wall of sound, while other times they add an additional primeval vibe to the guitar lines. The vocals are also distorted to a level of punishing hatred that only makes the album more abrasive and disturbing.

Another interesting aspect of Redbad is the subject matter. The album focuses on the story of King Redbad, who ruled Frisia in the 7th and 8th centuries. Supposedly he refused baptism at the last second, choosing to spend eternity in Hell with his comrades rather than in Heaven with his enemies. Perhaps fittingly, the track 'Pagan Pride in Hell' is easily the album's best, with its stark vocal opening followed by layers of sickening guitars and keyboards. Redbad contains plenty of other killer tracks, especially songs like 'The Poisoning' and 'Shamanic Visions' that employed the keyboards more extensively. Ophidian Forest is a band that should most definitely be on your radar.


METAL MANIACS REVIEW of the first, DIY CD-R version:

With obvious Pagan/Viking pride and a bit of dementia, Ophidian Forest melancholically dredge up a flood of torment and trauma in a standard but sturdy fashion. Rapturous, rabid and raw in its entirety, Redbad burns through plenty of proven BM approaches, but still has a grimy and modernized approach one could easily link to headfuckers like Katharsis, Operation Winter Mist or Glorior Belli. It drags a bit in length and is stretched and hollow in segments with some fat that could have easily been trimmed to make things more potent, but overall it's a true ripper. And while I'm honored to receive one of the only 50 in existence, I must wonder why a band would limit a handmade demo to so few, thus restricting their possible exposure. We'll see what they conjure up in the following months.


NOCTURNAL CULT REVIEW:

Croatian black metal with Pagan influences is found on the debut album from Ophidian Forest. Raw instruments and fuzzed out guitars add a layer of heathenish atmosphere to this noisy onslaught of anti-xtian anger. Fervent attitude is obvious from the mid-tempo, icy crusade of riffs on A Herald on Silver Wings. A slightly Burzum-ish style pervades the song without it being too overt. The pace quickens slightly and freezing riffs envelope the listener in a blanket of barbaric callousness. Savage Day Rising reminds me a lot of the chaotic assault of Gorgoroth's debut Pentagram and Amalgamoth's vocals are scorching in their savagery. Speedy riffing and quick bursts of drumming ferocity lend and undulating feeling to Shamanic Visions. The Ophidian Amulet, doesn't really meet the songwriting quality of the previous tracks and sort of blends in to the background though the dizzying bass and drum passage in the song's middle helps the song to stand out somewhat. Strange synths that seem a little disconnected with the music make for an awkward listening on The Poisoning. However Pagan Pride in Hell rectifies this situation as it is infused with a true Heathen atmosphere and speaks to worlds of Pre-Xtian pride. The riffing, synths, and vocals combine almost perfectly for a triumphant and emotional mood that calls out to a past of unspoilt natural wonder. Thor Rides over Dokkum is possessed of the fiery and primitive spirit of Bathory's debut album. Ophidian Forest's material can reach somewhat lofty realms of Pagan nostalgia and cruelty though occasionally it gets bogged down by samely riffs and the overwhelming wall of noise. A slight maturing in songwriting and a cleaner production could help Ophidian Forest step out of the realms of obscurity and conquer the world of fearful white-light worshippers.


OCCULT BLACK METAL REVIEW:

Ophidian Forest are a band that consists of members from Croatia, Netherlands, and San Francisco that plays viking/pagan/black metal and this is a review of their 2007 album Redbad.

Drums are mostly slow parts that sound really good with the epic pagan metal this band plays and there is some blast beats that are really fast, while the bass playing has a really dark and mysterious tone and you can actually hear it.

Rythym guitars on this recording are mostly slow to mid pace riffing that brings back memories of some of the more underground black/pagan metal bands of the 90's and there is also alot of fast riffs that sound very crushing aand there is not a lead or guitar solo anywhere on this album.

Vocals are mostly high pitched black metal screams that sound really evil with some occasional clean Viking vocals, while the production sounds very raw and primal, as far as the lyrics they cover Asataru Shamanism with a very well detailed and studied approach, and there are also alot of anti-christian themes as well. Keyboards are very rarely used on this album but when they show up you can hear alot of melodies that sound really dark.

In my opinion this is a really good album where all the songs sound different from each other which is usually a problem with some bands and I hear alot of potentanal in the music, and I would like to hear more music from this band. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


FUNERAL MARCH REVIEW:

Ophidian Forest - Redbad
9 tracks, 66:06
Ziekte-NL
This is not a tape, as it might seem when looking at the picture. I have got the DVD-cover edition of Redbad, the excellent album from Ophidian Forest, a very interesting band that have been interviewed earlier in Funeral March. They play pagan black metal and does it damn well! It is a great musical journey that they deliver and I almost wonder if the length of the album has been made on purpose 66 minutes and 6 seconds... Anyway, it is a musical journey, all songs are very interesting and variated. It is really fascinating how they have managed to create an album of this caliber when living in different parts of the world, truly impressing. I can't describe it all in just this review, it would be too long, but I can say that if you like pagan metal and black metal this will fit you like a glove, it combines the best of these two genres and out comes a great mixture. It is also very nice that it is delivered in a DVD case, it looks really good! So overall it is very good, definitely worth buying!




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