Inspired in part by the fact that yesterday was St. George’s Day, but also due to my music listening this week veering towards the extreme end of the metal spectrum, I have been listening again to Winterfylleth‘s “The Divination Of Antiquity” and Wodensthrone‘s “Curse”, both of whom celebrate the history of this country along ancient and pagan lines. In addition, I have been checking out the new album from Forefather, “Curse Of The Cwelled”.
Hailing from Surrey, Forefather were created in 1997 by brothers Wulfstan (lead vocals, guitars, bass) and Athelstan (guitar, bass, keyboards and backing vocals), both taking their names from prominent Anglo-Saxon figures.
As Forefather they have six previously released albums from 1999’s “Deep Into Time” through to “Last Of The Line” in 2011. Taking their inspiration musically from the likes of Iron Maiden and Burzum, Forefather’s lyrical inspiration largely comes from the Anglo-Saxon era of English history. Like many bands of their ilk, Forefather are often accused of racism for their celebration of English heritage – an accusation that we seem to do well in this country, arguably much more so than in countries where groups celebrate their own heritage, such as Scandinavian bands?
New album “Curse Of The Cwelled” (cwelled apparently being an alternative archaic spelling of the word quelled) carries on the band’s mixture of black / pagan / folk tinged metal, though are more melodic and accessible than many black metal bands.
A few thoughts on some of the songs contained on this album then, and what I believe to be the inspiration behind them…
The opening track “Havoc On Holy Island” starts with monastic chanting and sounds of the sea and goes on to tell of the Viking raid of Lindisfarne in 793 CE and is a mid-paced number, featuring strong melodies in the guitar lines, and instantly draws the listener in.
Viking invaders are again the source of the more furious sounding “By My Lord I Will Lie” – this time referring to the Battle Of Maldon in 991 CE.
The atmospheric title track concerns itself with the Norman conquest of the Anglo-Saxons in 1066 and the band’s belief that things began to deteriorate from then and includes some Old English narration taken from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the modern translation of which states “They built castles all across the land, and oppressed the wretched people, and afterwards it grew ever worse. May the end be good, when God wills”.
The effects of the aftermath of the black death on farm labourers and the like leading to the subsequent Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 CE forms the basis of “Rustics To Remain”, and closing track “The River-Maid’s Farewell” is a catchy instrumental number with a strong mediaeval feel.
Considering that Forefather are a two-man band who handle all the music and vocals this is a work of great accomplishment all round. This isn’t a genre, or lyrical area, that will appeal to all but for fans of the aforementioned Winterfylleth etc. this is well worth checking out.
1. Havoc On Holy Island / 2. The Anvil / 3. By My Lord I Will Lie / 4. Fire Of Baited Blood / 5. Curse Of The Cwelled / 6. Awakened Hate / 7. Painted With Blood / 8. Rustics To Remain / 9. Edge Of Oblivion / 10. Master Of Fate / 11. The River-Maid’s Farewell