Powerful, isolating, endlessly despairing DSBM, with nicely varied tempos and icy-cold raspy corpse vocals. Standing in this crowded place, I am completely alone. No one sees or understands me. If I died, no one would care—not even me. Yet still I live, cursed with breath and hope.
Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees, is a 35 square kilometer forest just to the northwest of Japan’s Mt. Fuji. It’s the second most popular place in the world to commit suicide after the Golden Gate Bridge. In 2003, the last year Japanese authorities released official numbers, 105 bodies were found in the forest. The actual number of suicides, however, is nearly impossible to determine, since the dense vegetation and abundant wildlife within the forest can make it difficult to locate and recover bodies.
For a depressive black metal band, any name that references Aokigahara probably seems a bit too on the nose. When that band is as good as Tucson-based Suicide Forest, however, it can be called anything the musician wants.
Suicide Forest is the brainchild of 23-year-old multi-instrumentalist Austin Kruger, who self-released a trio of demos between July 2016 and July 2017: Emptiness, Indifference, and Apathy. The first two were compiled under the name Descend Into Despair and re-released first on cassette in 2017 by Fólkvangr Records, and then on Digital/CD/LP earlier this year by Ascension Monuments Media. With each successive release, Kruger’s performances sound increasingly more confident, and the songwriting is increasingly more daring as a result.
Now, with the impending release of Suicide Forest’s self-titled full-length, Kruger is poised to be mentioned in the same company as the Scott Connors, Jef Whiteheads and Sin Nannas of the music world. Exalted company to be sure, but perhaps not the best points of comparison for the remarkable achievement that is Suicide Forest. Kruger may well have more in common with some of the great auteurs from the world of film like Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard, or Francois Truffaut, making Suicide Forest the band’s Citizen Kane, À bout de souffle, or Les Quatre Cents Coups: a towering debut that both acknowledges the work that came before it and completely rewrites the rules of the game.
Suicide Forest was engineered by Frank Bair, and mixed and produced in Tucson by A. Kruger with additional production by Chris Wisco (Broken Hope, Jungle Rot, Origin, Novembers Doom), and mastered at The Boiler Room in Chicago by Collin Jordan (Bongripper, Cough, Eyehategod, Gigan). Between the three of them, they dialed the exact sound an album like this deserves: clean enough that the nuances of Kruger’s songwriting can be appreciated, but not so clean that it loses any of that all-important black metal atmosphere.
From the driving rhythms and ethereal keyboard accents of opener “Kingdom of Solitude,” through the despairingly beautiful piano interlude “Baptized in Pools of Despondency,” to the lengthy sample from Jim Jones’s last speech exhorting his followers to commit ‘revolutionary suicide’ at the end of closing track “Cold Dark Comfort,” Suicide Forest is nothing short of a watershed release for depressive black metal. Follow its trail deep into the woods, and join with the dead already residing there…
-Clayton Michaels, Senior Editor, Indy Metal Vault
released October 26, 2018
“Suicide Forest” was recorded during the Winter/Spring of 2018 by A. Kruger and Frank Bair. Mixed and produced by A. Kruger with additional production by Chris Wisco. “Baptized in Pools of Despondency” recorded with assistance from R.B. “Lord Beta” Honeycutt. Mastered by Collin Jordan.
All music and lyrics by A. Kruger. All instruments performed live by A. Kruger.
Cover art painted by Lariyah Hayes. Logo by Adrian Daley.
Special thanks: Zak Giguere, Abigail Codru, Adrian Daley, Leanne Miller, Blake Judd, Erica Blaney, Nic Huber, Mark Addington at Folkvngr Records, and Crow Prints.
Isolated without hope, Haunted by dreams
Alone in the morose silence, Unable to speak
Locked away, From this loathsome world
Far from all whom I despise
Cold air infects my lungs, As I gasp my dying breath
All consuming, this atmosphere of endless plight
Engulfing my poisoned mind
All that once was, Never again shall be
As I enter my Kingdom of Solitude
Track Name: Auto-Immolation
As you stand rooted in the Earth before me
I gaze upon your branches
Who once were the instruments of my demise
Suspended, my feet above ground
Nearly lifeless I swing
Only when the all consuming blackness began to set in
Did your sturdy arms fail to hold
Robbed of my freedom, my young mind defeated
With the twine still firmly constricting my throat
I opened my eyes, With the cold, solid Earth at my back
I look upon your branches
With bloodshot, innocent eyes
Track Name: Longing for Nothingness
No Cold Steele, no course fibers
No Intoxicating liquids will heal me
Here I stand beneath cloud covered skies
Lamenting all that is.
Though I long to drink my last drop, Though I welcome my end
I remain upon this wretched world
Until this existence destroys me.
All that I am, All that I've had
Is tainted and robbed of its essence
All that remains is my persistence to be
The architect of my own demise.
Track Name: Sea of Trees
Alone, far from all
I revel in solitude
Beneath grey skies
Amongst the trees I shall be
Away from this world, I exist
Far beyond the reach of man
So that I may rest and have piece
Cast away on this island
Upon the Sea of Trees
A figure cloaked in mist
Alone in the silent darkness
Barely a human remains
Merely the shell of what once was
As emptiness is all that remains
Cast away on this island
Upon the sea of trees
Track Name: Cold. Dark. Comfort.
This barless cell of solitude
So cold, so bleak
Yet it’s blackness
Brings me the comfort
That life could not
Gelid my pale flesh
My icy breath
Fades into blackness
I dare not attempt
To escape this unfeeling tomb
For the morose stone walls
Shield me from the loathsome world