On this album, his third, Astral Winter explores the edges of symphonic and atmospheric black metal. Although the majority of the music here is ferocious and intense, there is plenty of room for epic keyboards and even progressive sounds. 'When Moonlight Evokes The Frozen Nights' also comes up with clean vocals, apart from the haunted scream that make this genre what it is. Besides, Josh, the guy behind this project (and in Atra Vetosus, Hammerstorm, Lost in Desolation & Take This Life), knows his way around a multitude of instruments.
There are awesome piano passages and dark, eerie keyboards to be found on this album, adding a brilliant conceptual feel to the whole thing. In that aspect, his album is a stunning example of cosmos-inspired extreme metal. 'As I Embrace The Winter Winds', for example, is a masterpiece of atmospheric black metal, opening with an epic synth melody which eventually turns out to be the lead of the whole thing. Yet, the progressive and technically skilled guitar play makes this song - and this album as a whole - a stand-out in today's blackened scene.
Even hardcore fans of the so-called post-black metal scene can easily appreciate this gem. It contains a lot of highly immersive passages, each of them being perfectly suited for a trance-inducing headbanging session. Bands that come to mind, include Dimmu Borgir, Acherontas, Limbonic Art, Summoning, Drudkh and Lantlôs, to name a few. In that, Astral Winter certainly is in excellent company The only downside is, chances of ever experiencing this live are close to nihil, since this is a one-man act that never tours.
'Forest of Silence' is a long album with songs reaching up to fifteen minutes. In most cases, the total duration of seventy minutes would simply be too long for the average black metal fan. Here however, the level of variation and the almost insane multitude of sounds, influences and instruments turn the whole thing into an awesome sonic adventure which never gets stale. I named only a few songs in this write-up but you can rest assured that none of the other tracks will disappoint you, on the very contrary. This album deserves a spot in your collection, no doubt about that.