A Dead Forrest Index is a New Zealand based duo that caught my attention this week when I went to see them open for Chelsea Wolfe. Their most recent album, All that Drifts From the Summit Down, is a dark, quiet piece touching upon themes of darkness and despair. The songs obtain gloomy undertones from the dreary guitar playing and minimalist drum style. Meanwhile, the vocals of lead singer Adam Sherry shed light on the sound aesthetic through the use of various looping and echo effects.
Because of the band’s vocally heavy set-up, they somewhat ride the genre of folk. The driving drums and acoustic based guitar noodling could be translated into a happy-go-lucky folk-dance vibe, however, the group finds uniqueness in the darkness of their sound overall. Perhaps it’s just an issue of delivery. Oftentimes the melodies seem to develop in a way indicative of a catchy folk sing along but the final note of each line will take the song to a different place. Also, the drums may twang similarly to a folk concert but the subtle detailing in production will effectively
Some of the highlights on the record include “Ringing Sidereal” and “Silver thread of Sun.” On “Ringing Sidereal,” we find the group in particularly spacey territory with marching drums and preaching vocal lines being complimented by basic guitar melodies. Doubling the vocal melody provides the situation with more drama before a drum solo comes to light. Here the vocals whisper and loop as the drum ideas build in intensity with the guitar part still droning in the background. “Silver Thread of Sun” employs similarly doubled vocal parts this time with more optimism in aesthetic. The primal drum soloing is absent leaving deeply composed vocal harmonies as the main focus.
The band losses their aesthetic a bit on “Sand Verse.” The folk elements in this song outweigh the darkness resulting in a Mumford and Sons-esque repeat-after-me chorus. It is easy to see this song as an attempt to capitalize on the indie-rock dudes with a banjo trend rather than the emphasis on individuality that embodies the rest of the album. The band finds themselves a bit more in the final two songs electing to favor dark mystery before the end of the record. In particular the end of “Homage Old” includes a bunch of backing vocals over the high pitched yearning of the lead vocal line.
As of right now, I’m very much interested in this band. Through the combination of seeing them play live and hearing their album, I have seen their potential as a voice in folk music that takes the genre in a direction not often heard. Although they favored slick folk tracks in spots on this particular album I believe that my relationship with the band and possibly this album could be very positive in the future.