By Jonathan Smith
Todesbonden’s full-length album feels refreshing, which perhaps isn’t surprising given the images of breezy fields and mossy forests that Sleep Now, Quiet Forest conjures up within the listener’s mind. I’ve had some lackluster and boring experiences with metal bands that mix traditional metal styles with more world music-based sounds, but the group has struck an intriguing balance. Laurie Ann Haus’s voice is quietly restrained when it works with the softer moments on the album, and press release comparisons to certain sounds from Dead Can Dance and singer Loreena McKennitt are not far off the mark When the melodies burst into chopping metallic guitar chords and rhythmic drum beats, her vocals soar upward to stay on top of them. I don’t have any difficulty imaging the power she could exude when and if the song-writing called for it. The album offers the same kind of mix between strategic heavy noise and historic/fantasy film score compositions that is now a cliché in metal, but it’s done well and keeps one interested in what’s going on. The opener “Surrender to the Sea” starts things off with a simple yet inviting piano riff, and the title track ends the album on a surprisingly ambiguous and haunting note, with Haus’s voice lingering on for seconds after the music has ended. Albums like this with been talked about before with regard to their moving past the boundaries of metal music, but I prefer to think of it as rather demonstrating one of the many flexible directions that’s offered by the genre.