ALBUM REVIEW: The Lord (Greg Anderson) – Forest Nocturne


Forest Nocturne (Southern Lord) is the debut full-length LP from The Lord, a solo project of the ever-prolific Greg Anderson, perhaps best known for his work with Sunn O))). The press release uses words like “pictorial” and “cinematic”, and mentions the influence of film composers such as John Carpenter and Bernard Hermann

In keeping with the cinematic concept, the music here is almost all instrumental and follows a minimalist approach. The tracks are composed of guitar lines, synth orchestration and effects, and elements of studio manipulation. In fact, much of the time the droning, ominous, sombre, doomy atmospherics could easily fit on a Sunn O))) record. Impossibly low crunchy guitars whirr and hum on one note for minutes at a time, and warm synth pads throb lethargically. 

But that’s only part of the story. Big rock guitar riffs and melodic lines also feature prominently and, in the spirit of the minimalist film-inspired compositional approach, there is a main theme that has its exposition on the first track, ‘THEME’, and which is returned to in different contexts throughout the record. This deliriously twisted theme, often presented with death-doom metal stylings, is strangely catchy and evokes nefarious nocturnal occult rituals. It absolutely fits with the folk-horror-inspired album title and the striking dark gothic fairytale artwork. 

During the most intense sections blistering lead guitars and sludge power chords are to the fore, and at these points Forest Nocturne could be described in some ways as an ultra-heavy album. However, even when the crushing riffs dominate, there is a notable lack of drums or percussion. This decision somehow adds to the foreboding menace and also serves to underline Forest Nocturne’s own idiosyncratic approach — not many bands sound quite like this. 


There are unexpected turns when Anderson ventures further away from rock and closer towards film score territory, such as ‘Church of Hermann’, where a church organ gloriously recites a melancholy and dread-laden hymn while gradually sinking into a mire of behemothic guitar noise.

Things also get pretty weird — in the best possible way — on a few occasions. ‘Lefthand Lullaby I’ features a short snippet of the main theme maddeningly looped on a chiming bell-like synth while Anderson plays with ring modulators and low pass filters until the structure of the sound world seems to swallow itself up.

A dizzyingly fierce highlight is ‘Lefthand Lullaby II’, which reaches a peak of frightening intensity as Anderson layers guitars and then synth strings playing a riff based on part of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Friends’ underneath a multi-octave rendition of the theme. 

There is a lot of light and shade here, including some quieter and calmer moments such as the ceaseless sinister synth noise drone of ‘Deciduous’, which gradually fades into the Sunn O))) drone-doom of ‘Old Growth’. 

Forest Nocturne finishes with its most metal track, ‘Triumph of the Oak’, which features Atilla Csihar (of Mayhem, and a frequent Sunn O))) collaborator) croaking and snarling demonically over a cacophony of dirty death-sludge guitar riffs. Again, Anderson resists the urge to add drums. It’s a climactic, tense and compelling end to the album’s unsettling and gloomy journey.

The Lord’s Forest Nocturne combines vividly evocative film-inspired composition with death and doom metal alongside experimental minimalism and ambient electronics. It’s an engrossing, immersive and often terrifying experience that will be worth exploring for anyone who appreciates the experimental and eccentric side of heavy music.

Buy the album here:


8 / 10