Dark ambient is music that has walked hand in hand with black metal from the very beginnings of black metal itself. Burzum, once one of the True Norwegian Black Metal stalwarts now exclusively plays dark ambient (until Varg changes his mind again, at least), Neptune Towers by Darkthrone’s Fenriz and Sigurd Wongreven of Satyricon fame released an album through his label Moonfog. It seems natural that any black metal fan should have a plethora of dark ambient projects in his queue as well. Cryo Chamber, the label that released the phenomenal Flowers for Bodysnatchers’ Aokigahara, is the very best label when it comes to dark ambient and drone. Aokigahara is no exception.
This is an album I could listen on repeat for hours, there is such subtle variations in the soundscape created that keeps my mind entertained. If I close my eyes I can feel myself walking through an eerie, malevolent forest, exactly, I think, what Flowers for Bodysnatchers intended. This is a masterpiece of dark ambient all around. I was first introduced to dark ambient through Burzum’s Daudis Baldur and this album, I feel is a much better story, much better production, much better atmosphere, much better everything really. I cannot find anything bad to say about it, I can’t even think of anything I think could have been improved, a rare feat indeed for my oft overcritical brain.
The highest praise I can give this album is that it makes me want to write an evil forest of my own. In fact, since I listened to it, I’ve begun researching other forests around the world and have been to work a forest into my own little grimdark world. Duncan Ritchie hit this album out of the park here.
It’s a long album, but the listener is better for it, we explore the forest and the dread emotions much deeper and the sinister feeling of something around the corner latches onto the listener and doesn’t let go, even after the final moments of the album, a sense of foreboding follows the listener well after the music is done.
There is also a lot of piano, paired excellently with the sounds of the forest, that reminds me of the classical music of Brahms, a slightly sinister ambience that threads its way through the natural sounds and into the fiber of the sound itself until it is indistinguishable from the forest itself.
This album, played in solitude in a darkened room, has a far greater emotional and psychological impact than the Forest, the recent film about Aokigahara. This is simply more honest, less flashy, more gritty. This a bloody masterpiece. I recommend this for all music and horror fans, not just black metal fanatics.